This remarkable description of what it is like to be under
American air attack is one of the very few available, and it was
written for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. It is taken
here from the collection of Mr. Honda dispatches, The Na-
tional Liberation Front (So-called "Viet Cong") ( Tokyo:
Committee for the English Publication of "Vietnam--A Voice from the Villages," 1968), pp. 43-45.
The village had been attacked by gunships (armed helicopters) many times. We could clearly see the helicopter in the air through nipa palm leaves as it kept machine gunning and shooting rockets at the nearest hamlet while circling it. This didn't seem so dangerous to us because we knew what the helicopter was aiming at and we had time to take refuge. What was most terrifying was to have a helicopter attack you suddenly on a whim after you thought it was going to pass you by.
One evening at about six o'clock, I was listening to a BBC broadcast from London on the radio I had borrowed from Mr. Thieu. A helicopter was coming straight from the north in the twilight. We were not being especially careful because many helicopters came and returned overhead that day. Suddenly, we heard a blast just about our house. A rocket! Startled, we ran to the air-raid shelter. Mr. Thieu, who had been lying in a mosquito net, jumped into the shelter faster than a chased rabbit and got there before we did. Just then there was a big bang and the vibration of an explosion coming from the nipa palm thicket just behind us.
We felt relieved. It would have been too late for us to take refuge if it had hit the house. We were amused at remembering how Mr. Thieu had leaped into the shelter, but we were also greatly impressed by the remarkable rapidity of his reflex movements. The radio, left behind under the mosquito net, was broadcasting U.S. Army announcements: "About 50 Viet Cong were killed in skirmishes in the Mekong Delta, while U.S. casualties were light with four soldiers dead and . . ."