A company of the United States Army's First Calvary Division was tied up for 15 days recently trying to get a North Vietnamese platoon, trapped in a complex of caves, to surrender.
A company of the United States Army's First Calvary Division was tied up for 15 days recently trying to get a North Vietnamese platoon, trapped in a complex of caves, to surrender. After all efforts at the persuasion and the use of force by small arms failed, the United States troops Thursday (6 July) poured napalm into the caves and ignited the napalm by air strikes. The entire North Vietnamese platoon was reported to have been burned to death or to have died by suffocation.
The scene of the action was near Bong Son on the central coast of South Viet Nam. After the North Vietnamese were trapped, the soldiers first tried persuasion to get them to come out. A major walked into a cave unarmed. He shouted to the enemy that if they came out they would be taken into the Saigon government's " Open Arms " program, by which the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese are offered amnesty if they surrender. The North Vietnamese responded to this offer by shooting and killing the U.S Army major.
There were other efforts at persuasion, but these did not work either. Eventually, the 1st Calvary troops began to use smoke and tear gas, and then flamethrowers. But all these measures failed to produce the desired effect. The North Vietnamese remained inside the caves.
Finally, the United States troops took a drastic step. Helicopters brought in 18 barrels of napalm, which was poured into the openings in the mountainside. The liquid was allowed to soak through to the caves where the North Vietnamese were hiding. Then air strikes were called in to ignite the napalm.
The entire mountainside was blackened. It's reported that those in the caves not burned to death suffocated as the napalm drew the oxygen from the air.