A South Vietnamese naval river patrol boat captured a North Vietnamese soldier last week while on patrol on the Cai Lon River in the Mekong Delta.
A South Vietnamese naval river patrol boat captured a North Vietnamese soldier last week while on patrol on the Cai Lon River in the Mekong Delta. The patrol started as a normal operation as part of the Saigon Government's programme to ensure security for their forces on the inland waterways.
The patrol boat in the film was based at Rach Gia, headquarters for the inland waterway vessels. One of the patrol boat's jobs is to check on vessels in the area. There are some 5,000 fishing boats operating from Rach Gia alone. They and the estimated 36,000 registered South Vietnamese boats of over one metric ton, must be checked in case they represent a threat to security.
Coastal surveillance is maintained by boats based on Phu Quoc Island. There are many miles of uninhabited beach around South Vietnam and numerous river inlets --all of which must be checked.
Another job of the river patrol boats is the movement of supplies. The boat in this film brought supplies to an army outpost in Chuong Thien Province. Although military action in the Mekong Delta has been fairly limited since the communist offensive began, much of what there is has been centred on Chuong Thien Province. It's believed that at least two full North Vietnamese regiments are operating in the province -- and South Vietnamese defences in the area are said to be thin because of the intense pressure of the offensive further north.
The North Vietnamese soldier captured last week by the patrol boat was aboard a sampan capsized by two South Vietnamese boats -- the boats always travel in pairs in dangerous waters. The South Vietnamese commander ordered the crews to open fire as the six North Vietnamese in the water swam back to the bank. One man surrendered as the others made their way into the reeds on the river bank. The patrol boats' gunners fired at the bank in an effort to stop the others. But it wasn't known if they were successful.
The North Vietnamese captive was interrogated on the boat and later on shore. It was found he was a political cadre who was leader of the men in the sampan, and was with a communist unit in Chuong Thien Province.
SYNOPSIS: Security on the Cai Lon River in South Vietnam's Mekong Delta area is the responsibility of patrol boats like this one. Last week, this boat set out from its base at Rach Gia on a normal patrol mission along the river.
The first objective was a South Vietnamese outpost in Chuong Thien Province. One of the boats' regular duties is moving supplies.
The South Vietnamese outpost is an example of the Saigon Government's defences in the area. Military strength in the Mekong Delta is relatively thin because the communist offensive forced commanders to send their troops further north. And though there hasn't been much activity in the Delta since the offensive, much of what there's been has been centred in Chuong Thien Province.
With the supplies delivered, the boat continues its patrol. One of the biggest jobs is to check as much boat traffic in the river as is possible. With some five-thousand fishing boats operating from Rach Gia alone, it's a big job. There are an estimated 36-thousand South Vietnamese beats of over one metric ton - and they've got to be checked. Coastal surveillance is maintained by other boats from Phu Quoc Island. But river security is the responsibility of these boats.
But this routine patrol became something more when a sampan with six North Vietnamese soldiers aboard ran into the Government boat. One man surrendered.
The patrol boat held fire, but the other North Vietnamese made for the river bank.
The North Vietnamese soldier was brought aboard. There were two South Vietnamese patrol boats involved because they always travel in pairs in dangerous waters.
The prisoner was quickly tied up. Meanwhile, the South Vietnamese gunners poured fire into the reeds along the river bank where the other five men in the sampan had gone.
The South Vietnamese interrogated the prisoner. It was believed that he was a member of one of the two full North Vietnamese regiments thought to be operating in Chuong Thien Province. His captors also examined his equipment.
And the patrol boat turned for home -- with the captive aboard.