As South Vietnamese troops withdraw from the war zone in Laos they're coming under increasing attack from Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces intent on cutting them off and wiping them out.
MV Helicopter landing ARVN troops running forward (caption Quang Tri province)
MCU Wounded soldier helped away
MV Group around stretcher
MV Wounded soldier helped along by others
MV Soldier with head wound being helped.
LV US artillery gun firing (2 shots)
MV Gun firing
GV PAN TO Armoured personnel carrier
MLV Troops run forward
GV US troops moving about under small arms fire (NATSOUND in clear) (4 shots)
CU G.I. firing rifle
MCU Troops fire rifles
PAN TO tank with soldiers firing automatic weapons
MCU Ground troops firing rifles.
MCU Gunner in tank firing automatic weapon
CU Soldier with fingers in ears (last shot in clear)
MV Battle-weary troops lying on ground (5 shots)
MLV Personnel vehicle carrying infantry (new troops from rear)
MLV Tank with wounded man being tended
MV Men disembarking from trucks.
CU Troops in personnel carrier
MV Group of soldiers standing in group
CU Armoured personnel carriers driving away down dust road.
Initials BB/2139 BB/2304
original colour on 3345/71 230ft
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As South Vietnamese troops withdraw from the war zone in Laos they're coming under increasing attack from Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces intent on cutting them off and wiping them out. There have been reports of a North Vietnamese tank column advancing within a few miles of the border, and of American units manoeuvring into position to reinforce the frontier.
Our film, shot by an NBC crew, shows exhausted troops harassed by constant gunfire, and availing themselves of any transport back across the border. Many are seen clinging to the skids of arriving helicopters. When these scenes were filmed during the weekend, abut half of the estimated 22,000 South Vietnamese troops in Laos had been evacuated in the preceding three days. U.S. air support was reported to be the strongest since last November's raids on North Vietnam. There are scenes of a unit from the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment which was later to refuse orders.
This is some of the most graphic film we have yet serviced from the Laos/South Vietnam border zone, and includes some excellent sound sequences.
SYNOPSIS: The Quang Tri province of South Vietnam, where U.S. helicopters have been arriving with South Vietnamese troops evacuated from the war zone in Laos. According to NBC reports many of the soldiers appeared desperate to return across the border, but preference is, of course, being given to the wounded. There are indications that as many as a third of the South Vietnamese invasion force could be missing...either killed or wounded in Laos.
The evacuation of troops from Laos has been supported by U.S. ground units, and air cover which is the strongest since raids on North Vietnam last November. At the weekend this artillery unit was under constant harassment as it fought to keep Highway Nine open for returning troops.
American armoured vehicles manoeuvred into position to protect the frontier, as continuing reports indicated an approaching North Vietnamese tank column. Meanwhile, hundreds of injured and exhausted soldiers sought what shelter they could.
In the three days preceding the weekend, an estimated 11,000 South Vietnamese were transported back across the border from Laotian territory. However American bases such as Khe Sanh have been under constant bombardment, and the road evacuation of wounded has proved extremely hazardous.
Members of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Regiment helping to protect Highway Nine have had to weather the brunt of many North Vietnamese attacks during rescue missions, and shortly after this film was taken one weary platoon refused an order to return for a third time into an ambush zone.