Men of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 7th marines, recently made a combat patrol into suspected VC village twenty miles from Da Nang Air Base.
Men of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 7th marines, recently made a combat patrol into suspected VC village twenty miles from Da Nang Air Base. The fact that they were on patrol was, of course, not unusual. The additional materials they carried with them, however, were new and unusual. The patrol was "armed", in addition to conventional weapons, with toy plastic balls and ballpoint pens. The yellow balls with orange striped and the words "Open Arms, the Road to Freedom" in Vietnamese were handed out to village children, primarily as toys, but also as graphic reminders that the Allies' Open Arms program is always waiting to welcome any Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier who wishes to defect. The ballpoint pens, with the same wording, were given to the village elders. On this particular patrol the squad was also armed with medicine, soap, fresh water and a helpful Navy Corpsman, who treated ailing villagers. Constant efforts to convince the enemy to defect and lead a better life have paid off. Many former VC and North Vietnamese now work with and for the Allies, and the villagers and formers are more cooperative in reporting the presence of enemy weapons and soldiers.