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Page 38(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)  

 

 

USMC Photo A184166

The Marines roundup VC suspects in Le My. A South Vietnam Popular Force soldier is in the foreground.

2, Captain Lionel V. Silva, the district chief, Captain Nguyen Hoa, and the battalion's S-2 scouts, visited the hamlets. They surveyed the neighborhood, talked to the villagers, but then came under Viet Cong fire, which killed one of the scouts. This incident confirmed Clement's opinion that in order to secure Le My, he first had to clear it.

On 11 May, the Marine battalion returned in strength. In an opposed fire fight, Cement's Company E 'conducted the assault . . . and cleared the hamlets.'8 This time the battalion stayed and took up defensive positions in Le My. The Marines rounded up the male villagers who were put to work destroying punji traps, filling in trenches, and dismantling bunkers. Fifty of the men were sent to Da Nang for further questioning. Three days later, Vietnamese regional and popular forces relieved the Marines in the hamlets and the battalion moved to positions around the village. The actual eradication of the guerrillas was left to the South Vietnamese, while the Marines saturated the area with patrols and established ambushes to prevent the enemy from moving or massing forces.

To provide the villagers the means of fending for themselves, Clement's battalion trained the Vietnamese local forces, helped to prepare the defenses, and set up medical aid stations. The Marines emphasized self-help projects such as the building of schools and market places so that the local populace could continue on their own. Captain Silva, who was also Clement's civil affairs officer, stated that the battalion's goal was 'to create an administration, supported by the people, and capable of leading, treating, feeding, and protecting themselves by the time the battalion was moved to another area of operations.'9

The Marines also assisted the villagers in rebuilding two bridges, which, according to the
 

Page 38(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)