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MALCOLM W. BROWNE:
Saigon AP Bureau Handbook


Page 18 of 22 Back  Main  Next


XVI. SOME POINTERS ON GUERRILLA WARFARE

At times, you will find yourself in actual combat situations, and you should react to them like a soldier -- by doing everything you can to keep yourself alive and unwounded.

Try to keep in good physical condition so you can march or run for a reasonable distance. You might have to save your life doing this at some point. You should know how to swim. Canals and ditches often are above your head.

If you hear a shot and think its not from your own side, don't get up and look around to see where it came from. The second shot might get you. Lie prone under fire, and move only on your belly. Look for cover and move toward it.

When moving with troops DO NOT stay close to the head of a column or the "point man" in a formation. Professional soldiers are paid to do this. DO NOT stand or march next to a radio man or an aid man. They are prime targets. Stick close to the commander who is generally in the safest position available. You'll learn more from him than most of the others, anyway. The whole idea of covering an operation is to GET THE NEWS AND PICTURES BACK, not to play soldier yourself.

When moving through enemy territory (a good part of Viet Nam is enemy territory) watch your feet. Spikes, mines, concealed pits and booby traps are everywhere. When possible, step in exactly the same places as the soldier ahead of you. If he wasn't blown up, you probably won't be.

If you should get stuck under a mortar barrage or accidental air strike on you own side, the best place to be is under ground. Holes are better than nothing. Most Vietnamese huts have roots cellars inside them, which offer fairly good cover.

If you are traveling in an M113 or M114 armored amphibious personnel carrier, do not stick your head out of the hatch when the vehicle is under fire. The gunner has to, because it's his job. But five M113 gunners were killed in a recent clash in the delta.

If you know you're going to be traveling in an M113 or M114 during an operation, bring heavy cotton gloves. If you don't, your hands will be badly blistered, cut up and mashed, just from holding on.

Do not pick up Viet Cong flags or other souvenirs from hay stacks, tree branches or poles. They are often booby-trapped with grenades.

Never be the first to walk into a hut.

Beware of water buffalo. When they get excited they stampede, charge and kill. Vietnamese forces suffer a number of casualties from water buffalo. Don't be mislead by seeing children playing on their backs; children and buffalo are friends.


Courtesy Malcolm W. Browne.

Photo: Horst Faas, Mal Browne and Peter Arnett in the Saigon AP office. Photo credit: Peter Arnett collection Reporter's Notebook
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