A brief word about how Vietnam looks. Flying over and driving through the Delta, our general impression was that the area looks relatively untouched and prosperous. There are no stretches of deserted or razed villages, and we saw only some evidence of past defoliation. Still the war is ever present. The sound of mortar fire is sporadic during the day but almost continuous at night. And when we drove out to the village of Cho Gau, fifteen miles or so outside My Tho, late in the afternoon with some young CORDS officers with whom we were spending the night, they were noticeably nervous when we found ourselves waiting unduly long for a ferry that was to take us across a river that stood between the hamlet and the road back to My Tho.
The view of I Corps from the air is quiet different. Along the coast in the vicinity of Route 1, the "street without joy," there are large stretches of desolated country with abandoned and burned out villages and long reaches of defoliated trees and underbrush stretching along canal and river banks.
Perhaps the Vietnamese can best describe their own country. The quotation below is from a pamphlet used at the Vietnamese training center at Vungtau where Revolutionary Development cadre, village and hamlet officials, Peoples Self- Defense Force personnel and others are trained.
Rural Vietnam today is desolate, bleak and in many areas deserted. Gardens are plowed by either bombs and shells or by men digging not furrows for seed but shelters and trenches. Houses appear in irregular patterns, some curiously unscathed by the ravages of war, but many are destroyed or knocked askew and lean drunkenly, adding to the mournful loneliness which is the hallmark of abandoned areas. Previously lush rice fields are overgrown with weeds, the silence unbroken by the