Chieu Hoi

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Erick W. Miller

Kit Carson’s Buddy school was a welcome relief from the field. My company had just gotten off 882, where casualties in my platoon outnumbered survivors. K.C.S. was a program for pointmen only; it was designed to buddy up American pointmen with a former enemy who had supposedly changed sides. I must emphasize, “Supposedly”, because you never knew their hearts or if they would change sides again. Our job as “Buddies” was to teach the Chieu’s to fire all the American weapons, how to maneuver under fire and how to rappel. Most importantly we were supposed to bond with them, in general just become friends. We tried doing this by going to the movies, eating, playing ping-pong and boxing.

I was one of the permanent pointmen in my company who lacked a scout. The other man from my company was Theodore Jones, better known as Brother Jones. The Kit Carson’s were supposed to walk point with us walking their slack. Great in theory hard to carry out. The Kit Carson’s after all, used to be the enemy.

Language was another barrier. We could only learn so much of each other’s language in a 2-week crash course. After this training we took our new friends to Camp Eagle to rejoin our company which was in on stand-down. I was on the Berm Guard Roster and took my scout with me that night. The worst job on Berm Guard is satellite. This means your duty station is 30 meters in front of the big bunker and you man the claymore firing devices. There was also a 55-gallon drum of homemade napalm, which the satellite could detonate electrically.

This particular night was very stormy complete with cloud to ground lighting. My Kit Carson refused to come outside in the rain. I didn’t feel like arguing with the sissy, besides there were two more G.I.’s inside the bunker. The two in the bunker may have been R.E.M.F.’s but I felt they could shoot the Chieu Hoi if he acted funny. This was the first time he disappointed me. I’m usually not a very patient man but I didn’t have the authority to get rid of this dead weight just yet.

After stand-down we were trucked to Fire Base Bastogne where the normal procedure was for two platoons to remain on the firebase while the other platoon split into squads and set up ambushes all around the firebase. My platoon got ambush duty. We walked off the firebase with my new scout in front. So far, so good. When we reached the end of the defoliated area and started climbing up in the hills, my scout refused to go any further. That did it, I said that if this guy wasn’t going to do his job that I didn’t want him out with us. I walked point for a long time without a scout and I preferred it that way. Our platoon was spread out all the way to Bastogne and we sent him back in for the R.E.M.F.’s to handle.

We heard gunfire on the firebase while we waited for the hero to get out of our way. We got the news over the horn that Brother Jones got into an argument with his scout. The Chieu Hoi picked up his rifle and Jones shot him. That was pretty much the Chieu Hoi program in a nutshell.