Webmaster Jack Cunningham
(Sussex, NJ) and George Dros (Cooperstown, NY) are sitting at a table in a Duc Duc Refugee Village peasant hut, near the village's
market place. The two, young United States Marines are members of CAP Team 2-9-2. (CAP Teams were composed
of about 8 to 13 Americans, who lived and served 24/7 in Vietnamese peasant-farming villages. The Duc Duc
Refugee Village was composed of about 2,000 homes.)
In the above picture, Jack's and George's eyes were
shut, because of complete exhaustion. It was July 1970. At the time this picture was taken, the Americans in Duc
Duc were not sure whether the CAP Unit would be pulled out of the village or whether it would be wiped out. We were
experiencing heavy combat. Intelligence reports were coming in daily that the Communists wanted to punish the village
while the Americans were still there.
By wiping out
CAP 2-9-2, the terrorists hoped to leave an example to other CAP Villages. With alerts at the highest level, night ambush
responsibilities were 100% watch throughout the night. With two long patrols a day going outside the village, it didn't
leave much time for the eight or so Americans to sleep.
Around the day this
picture was taken, an intelligence report came in from the 1st Marine Division Headquarters in Da Nang that the high Communist
Command wanted to speed up President Nixon's troop pullout from Vietnam. They wanted to embarrass the Americans on a
wide-scale and influence the American People into pressuring a faster troop pullout. Their plan called for wiping out
the Fifth Marines at An Hoa. It was going to involve thousands of Communist Forces. The Village of Duc Duc was
on the large Marine Base's perimeter and was said to be the main route for the Communist attack. Our orders that night
in July 1970 was to set up in the most well protected position. Our Cap Unit was expected to try and hold off the Communist
drive off as long as possible. We were expected to serve as a warning or trip wire (Queens Gambit) for the Fifth Marines.
Months after Jack and George pulled out of the
village of Duc Duc, the Vietnamese communists punished the peasant village by burning it to the ground. Hundreds of
civilian men, women and children were killed, wounded and reported missing. Two thousands homes were reduced to ashes.
The blaze could be seen from twenty-five (25) miles away in Da Nang. It was the light of the blaze that guided United
States Marines helicopters to the scene.