The densely populated Mekong Delta -- with its key road and river transportation routes -- remain the key to South Vietnam's survival, and Government forces are battling desperately to blunt the current north Vietnamese offensive only 32 miles (51 kilometres) from Saigon itself.
GV Armoured vehicles boarding ferry at Vin Long (2 shots)
SV Troops aboard ferry
GV TRAVEL SHOT troops along road in vehicles (3 shots)
GV PAN & GVS in Moc Hoa village with people in shelters (3 shots)
GV Troops standing on sandbags looking on
CU Part of Russian rocket held by man
SV&GV People digging for buried in rubble
AERIAL VIEWS rice fields (2 shots)
SV PAN&SV rice being harvested (2 shots)
GV PAN Cattle being toward by boat in water (2 shots)
SV Beat leaded with rice
GV Pontoon raft carrying army personnel carrier
GV PAN Troops firing artillery gun
SVS&GVS from interior of helicopter over area (5 shots)
GV&SVS wounded being taken on helicopter (2 shots)
GV Remains of Doan ket village still smouldering (2 shots)
MVS&CU Women and men drying squashed bananas (3 shots)
GV&MVS repair work in progress (3 shots)
GV&SVS Street vendors in village (3 shots)
GV Part of village
Initials ET/056 ET/136
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Background: The densely populated Mekong Delta -- with its key road and river transportation routes -- remain the key to South Vietnam's survival, and Government forces are battling desperately to blunt the current north Vietnamese offensive only 32 miles (51 kilometres) from Saigon itself.
At the same time, both sides are fighting for the Delta's rich rice harvest - one of the best in recent years.
The result is a concentration of heavy fighting around the provincial capital of Moc Hoa, which has become both a temporary stock-piling centre for the rice and garrison town for the Government forces.
Located in a huge Marah only two feet above sea level 60 miles from the coast, Moc Hoa presents special problems for both its defenders and attackers. Troops must literally be floated by ferry to and from their advanced positions, and so far the south Vietnamese have managed to retain control of the waterways. But the North Vietnamese control most of the roads, and their rockets and mortar shell have been taking an increasing toll in Moc Hoa.
And in the midst of this fighting, the Delta's civilian population -- mostly women and children -- have been working day and night to harvest the rice before the North Vietnamese can seize it. The toil in the fields under minimal military protection, and what rice they can salvage in the face of their attackers' advance is transported by boat to the relative and at least temporary safety of Moc Hoa.
In this type of warfare, the helicopter has come to play an increasing 17 vital role. The Government is using helicopter-gunships both to harass the North Vietnamese and to ferry fresh troops and supplies into the Moc Hoa region.
It is a pattern established earlier in the village of Doan Ket, 96 miles (153 kilometres) to the north of Moc Hoa, which was virtually destroyed by South Vietnamese bombing four months ago because it had become a Viet Cong stronghold, but which is now being reconstructed under an umbrella of helicopter protection and supply.
As its ruins still smoulder, Doan ket is being built anew -- and, as one village rises slowly from the ashes of war, another -- Moc Hoa -- braces itself against a similar fate.