Early this month, Firebase Charlie the Second was handed over by the Americans to the South Vietnamese.
GV Firebase Charlie II
LV Demilitarised Zone
GV showing barbed-wire camp perimeter
Soldiers outside banker
Other soldiers relaxing in sun, drinking and smoking
Soldiers talking to South Vietnamese troops
Eight-inch tank gun firing
Lone sentry walks off to patrol camp
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Background: Early this month, Firebase Charlie the Second was handed over by the Americans to the South Vietnamese. Yet today the base, just south of the demilitarised zone, is still in American hands.
And the 112 American soldiers maiming the firebase - which has been under frequent Communist rocket attack - are wondering why they are still there. One soldier claimed that some of them have been thinking of staging a walkout. 'I mean,' he said, 'if we are not supposed to be here, then why be here and maybe get killed for it.'
Despite the grumblings, life for the American soldiers has been fairly peaceful lately. they relax in the sun, drinking beer and listening to music. Some of them admit to smoking drugs. They allege they get supplies form South Vietnamese troops in return for American cigarettes.
Whatever the situation at Firebase charlie the Second, the soldiers continuously talk about getting back to what they call 'the world,' which refers to anywhere away from the battlefield.
Sometimes they are called to arms, manning eight-inch artillery to blaze away at unseen suspected Communist positions. If the Americans continue to man what is now officially a South Vietnamese firebase, they can expect mere than beer and sunbathing. Intelligence reports have suggested a major offensive in the offing around the Demilitarised Zone which has seen some of the heaviest action in recent months of the Vietnam conflict.