ki after he learned that the latter understood the language. The concern, however, of the board, according to Lewandowski was his feeling toward Orientals in general and the Vietnamese in particular.101
A former CAP Marine, Edward F. Palm, who retained serious reservations about the entire program, observed that in his perfunctory interview in July 1967, the concern of the interviewer was his attitude towards the Vietnamese. Unlike the three previous CAP members listed above, Palm had no combat experience. He had served his first six months in Vietnam as a supply clerk in what he described as a "prosaic, humdrum routine." To break loose from this stultifying job. Palm volunteered for the Combined Action Program. The only qualification for the program, according to Palm, "was the enthusiastic recommendation of my commanding officer, who was probably only too glad to get a disaffected and unmo-tivated supply clerk off his roles." Like Ferguson, Palm attended the 3d CAG School for a brief two-week period and learned some fundamentals of squad tactics and how to call in artillery. The exposure to both the Vietnamese language and the society's mores was rudimentary at best.102
The Combined Action mission was a daunting one for even the most motivated of Marines, and especially for young Marines. With the best of intentions, the Combined Action schools could only provide a modicum of knowledge about South Vietnamese customs, let alone language training. Even ideal CAPs outlined by Chaplain McGonigal in his interim report would have had difficulties adjusting to the conditions of an alien society at war with itself in the countryside. Lieutenant Colonel Brady half seriously stated that the qualification for a good CAP leader was a "tough Marine sergeant, who has a PhD in social anthropology." Obviously the young Marine lance corporals, corporals, and sergeants hardly met that criteria, w
How well did these young Marines do then in bridging the gap between them and the villagers and the PFs? Again there is no hard evidence except for the anecdotal. Citing the example in his own CAP, Edward Palm later wrote: "The cultural gulf was just unbridgeable out in the countryside." He observed "our PFs eventually refused to patrol with us [and] I never really knew any of the PFs I worked and lived with." On the other hand, another young CAP, James DuGuid, recalled that when, in December 1967, told that he was going home, he replied "but I am home." According to DuGuid, "I felt more love from those people in my village than I had ever prior to Vietnam. I took that back with me."104"
Other Marines had different experiences. According to Bobrowsky, his exposure to the village helped him to understand the complexity of the Vietnamese countryside. As a Marine in a line unit, he was only interested if the villagers were hostile or not, otherwise they were neutral. As a CAP Marine, he came to understand that there were all kinds of interrelationships that extended from family to village. While on relatively friendly terms with the villagers, the members of his CAP knew they were outsiders. Bobrowsky tells about his patrol sometime after Tet 1968 coming upon an old woman burying two North Vietnamese soldiers. Half-jokingly, Bobrowsky asked the woman if she would do the same for them. The woman laughed and pointed to the PFs with the Marines and said she would bury them, but "No, the Americans I'd just have to throw them in the river."105
*As a former Marine officer, now an Army historian, Charles R. Anderson, observed, "all Marines in the infantry were ill-prepared to serve in CAP, since rheir training before arrival in Vietnam was combat-oriented." Charles R. Anderson, Comments on draft, n.d. [Dec 1994] (Vietnam Comment File). Colonel Danowitz stated that he insisted on obtaining the best available men. He noted that when he took over in October 1968, that he was unimpressed with the "volunteers" being sent from both the 1st and 3d Marine Divisions. He stated that he had good relations with both division commanders and "immediately, the word went out to the regiments and a board was formed at each headquarters where the G-1 'culled' men sent in from the field and only the better ones came to our final selection board." While acknowledging that some "misfits" slipped through the selection process, he noted a decided improvemenr in the quality of the Marines in the program. Danowitz Comments.
**Arliss Willhite, who served in the same CAP unit as DuGuid, wrote that he "felt a real kinship to the people and a loyalty to my ville. I lived in Ngoc Ngot for 15 months. Longer than I had lived at a single location in my life. ... To me CAP was Vietnamization in reverse. ... I didn't let anybody mess with the people, steal chickens, burn hoorches or shoot at Buffalo. I'm still more Vietnamese than American. I was watching out for the people on my block." Willhite stated that he was not typical of most of the Marines in his hamlet. He recalled that he was teased by some of his comrades, asking him if he was "going to start voting?" Arliss Willhite, Comments on draft, dtd 28Sep94 (Vietnam Comment File). Former Sergeant John J. Balance was another CAP Marine who identified very closely with the local population, in his case the Bru tribesmen that he served with in CAP Oscar in Khe Sanh village. Recalling in his memoirs the fate of the Bru refugees including the CAP members who were denied entry into the American base ar Khe Sanh, Balance wrore: "These were the people we were fighting with and for. Now we were abandoning them? It gave me an outraged and hopeless feeling that has never left my heart or soul." John J. Balance, "Abandoned, Reflections of a Khe Sanh Vet," ms, End, Balance, Comments on draft, dtd 15Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File). See Chapter 14 for the descriprion of the overrunning of Khe Sanh village and the aftermath.