American soldiers fighting in Vietnam were routinely ordered to leave the relative safety of their protected firebase. They entered the dense jungle to engage in search and destroy missions seeking out the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnam Army (NVA). These forced excursions, sometimes for a month, exposed each grunt to the real risk of severe wounding and death.
Beginning with his plea at the WWI peace talks at Versailles, Ho Chi Minh continued for over fifty years to pursue his wish for a united Indochina. The Viet Cong and NVA were dedicated to Ho’s goal. Their predecessors had been at war since World War II when the Americans had supplied and trained them to fight the Japanese. These same men and women in 1954 had defeated their colonial masters, the French. America and its allies were now fighting that same hardened and sophisticated guerrilla foe.
The Viet Cong were experts in fashioning booby traps from unexploded American ordnance. They had studied and understood the impulsive actions of the young Western mind.
A piece of Styrofoam would attract a grunt and be picked up. When given a choice, the less demanding jungle trail would be followed. Both actions resulted in massive injuries from triggering hidden explosives.
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