Pacification Village Constructed South of Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1970

This May 1970 photo essay by SP4 J.B. Majerus appeared in the center section of an issue of the
Southern Cross, the Americal Divison newspaper.  The complete story is set forth below.

"CHU LAI (AMERICAL IO) -- about seven miles northeast of Quang Ngai City, near Van Thien
Village, a roaring Rome plow slices through the tangled growth of trees and brush.
     A few hundred yards away, Vietnamese civilians stare in awe at the two massive D-7 bulldozers
of the 26th Engineer Battalion as the snorting monsters rip through the brush and trees and push
them into tangled heavy smelling piles.
     A village official grins with glee as a tall hardwood is toppled without disturbing the composure
of the salvaged bricks standing at its base.  The tree fell exactly as he requested.
     The work of clearing the land for defense and farming continues as the bellowing behemoths
battle the tough roots and rocks.
     A little further west, a jumble of bamboo framework and concertina wire bears the promise of
safety and shelter for the several thousand Vietnamese.  Scurrying figures run the maze of trails and
paths carrying impossible loads of bricks, sticks and logs.
     A wizened little woman motions for an engineer lieutenant to lift one end of a log as big and heavy
as she is.  She searches for the center of balance and hoisting the log onto her thin shoulders moves
quietly down the path in a fast, sure-footed shuffle.
     A young boy cautiously edges into the perimeter of the American position on the edge of the
village.  He seeks "doc."  The 1st Battalion 6th Infantry company's medic examines, carefully washes
and then treats a large sore on the youngster's head.  A quick smile and the youngster is gone.
     Another lad, older than the first, walks confidently to the perimeter and with a jaunty, "Hey honcho!"
announces that he wishes to trade food for an enemy round he has found.
     Later in the morning a group of Quang Ngai Province Civilian Irregular Defense Group soldiers
and elements of the 198th Infantry Brigade's 1st Battalion 6th Infantry, move carefully into the wood-
line east of the village.  They seek the enemy, the lurking threat.
     The "New Life" village of Van Thien grows wall by wall adding one family at a time.  The people
are returning to their land.  The security provided by the soldiers enables them to work their fields
and rebuild their homes relatively free from harassment and intimidation.
     Van Thien will soon shelter about 3,000 people.  It may grow to a population of 6,000 when
more of the displaced farmers return to their fields.
     Although most of the building is is done with the abundant bamboo, some materials such as tin,
sandbags, wire and steel posts have been supplied by the Americans.
     The local Popular Forces troops are trained and assisted by the American elements that are
providing security for the village.  Sometime in the future they will be able to defend their villages
themselves." [End of article]


The pacification village program succeeded.  On 12 March 1971, the following article by SGT Terry
Williamson appeared in  the Southern Cross under the headline "Pacification is a success in 3 villages."

"LZ DOTTIE, (198th Inf. Bde. IO) -- Three villages in the 198th Infantry Brigade area have come
the full cycle in the pacification program.  No longer do the three villages require American assistance
for security and aid and now all three are described as self-sufficient.
     The entire three square mile area, about five miles northeast of Quang Ngai City, is a model
example of success in the allied pacification effort.  The once Viet Cong infested area now resembles
a flourishing farm area, and the smiles of a happy people have returned after a long absence.
     Infantrymen of the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry played a major role in the pacification of Van Thien,
An Thien and Giem Diem.  The "Regulars" provided security for the people -- most of them refugees
forced away from their land -- and helped the villagers get back on their feet.
     It has been less than a year since the creation of Van Thien, the first hamlet of the three, and the
results of that beginning can serve as a beacon to other efforts of the future.  The atmosphere for
pacification was good and the village of An Thien sprang into existence almost immediately.  The
refugees involved were ready and now the villages needed the proper indigenous personnel to
insure success.
     A Revolutionary Development Cadre team (RDC) and a People's Self-Defense Force (PSDF)
were formed as the inhabitants went about the chore of building their new homes and putting the
area under cultivation.
     The main task, however, was to insure that inhabitants were provided with security.  The 1st
Battalion 6th Infantry was on hand to see that the proper protection was provided, but the ultimate
goal of the program would have villagers self-supported, economically as well as militarily.
     This goal has been reached with even greater efficiency than had been hoped.  In fact, things
went so smooth that still another village, Giem Dien, was created in the same area, and now the
three support nearly 3,000 people.
     'There are so many factors involved in the success of this program that it is hard to say which
helped the most,' said 1st Lieutenant Ron J. Johnson of New Carlisle, Ohio, Brigade Civil Affairs
Officer.  'But you have to say that the people themselves worked hard, and were eager to make
this effort a success.'
     In conjunction with providing security, the battalion was involved in a program of training the
local forces, both Popular Forces and Regional Forces, to assume full responsibility for their own
security.  The basis of this training program centered around combined US and GVN patrols and
ambushes.  This, in turn, was complemented by informal instruction in basic military subjects.
     Supplementing these activities, the battalion also implemented a civic action program which
involved conducting regular Medcaps, and assisting the people with their construction problems
as much as possible.
     'We feel that our greatest responsibility in the pacification effort is the personal example set by
the men of the battalion in preparing the local forces to provide security for themselves,' said 1st
Lieutenant Daniel J. Boccolucci of Buffalo, a civil affairs officer.  'Their devotion to the program
allowed us to complete the job in record time.'
     Combined military operations in the area were not the only factors in insuring a pacification
success.  The 59th Land Clearing Company and Bravo Company, 26th Engineers, also helped
to make the area safe.  The two units have been involved in a massive land clearing project that
has destroyed endless  enemy sanctuaries on the Bantangan Peninsula.  The villagers also formed
a common bond among  themselves, and could not be intimidated by the Viet Cong.
     This has left the enemy in this area confused, scared and ineffective.  Ralliers have been turning
up in greater numbers than ever before, and most of them say they no longer have any support from
the people.
     The infantrymen of the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry left the people to assume full responsibility for
their homes without much fanfare, which showed a great confidence on the part of the people in
handling their own problems alone.
     'The people were ready to take care of their own lives,' said Boccolucci. 'They are self-sufficient
now, and they deserve it after all of the work they have put into their villages.'
     The villages are able to market their produce in Quang Ngai City, and now their economic
condition is sound after their first bumper crop.  The people are actively involved in local politics
and support their leaders.  They now have their own schools, and many children are getting the
education that was denied them before." [End of article]

Select additional photos from the index at left, use the browser back arrow to return to the Stories
selection page, or link to the Home Page  for the 1st Bn 6th Inf.