June 1967 - May 1968

Since the beginning of the United States involvement in the Vietnam conflict, Free World Forces took numerous steps to bolster the economic development and standard of living of the Vietnamese people. Equally important as victories on the battlefield is the triumph inherent in winning the hearts and minds of the citizens. Previous experience has shown us that although it is militarily impossible to physically occupy every village and hamlet, it is possible to influence people to resist insurgency through Civic Action. This action was not a failure -- it was the enemy's brutality that that won the minds. When a village leader loses his head or a member of his family does, it is easy to put your mind into thinking the enemy's way. It is difficult to fight a propoganda war when your hands-are tied and your own press is your enemy.

The 145th Combat Aviation Battalion had actively participated in the Civic Action Program created by the Military Assistance Command Vietnam. Concentrating on the needs of the people, the 145th has instituted a program that applies to various areas in the country. The primary concern of this battalion is to help the people help themselves. A method utilized to accomplish this goal is the hiring of civilian employees. Employing a large number of people, this battalion contributes daily to the productive advancement of the Vietnamese economy.

The giving of commodities is not the only component used in affecting a well-rounded program. Medical care and educational aid are also a vital part of the Civic Action make-up. With the newly revised MEDCAP program all efforts are placed on one village instead of many villages as was done in the past. The Thai Hung Village, located on the southern tip of War Zone D, is the site selected by the medical team for their weekly visits. Every visit made to the Thai Hung Village produced a noted improvement in the overall health of the villagers.

In addition to the MEDCAP team, the battalion has organized an educational program. The EDCAP classes are for those who wish to learn the English language. The classes are held once a week, and are scheduled to last one hour. Each week there has been an increase in attendance. This increase in class participation has warranted a broadening of the curriculum to include cultures (both American and Vietnamese), and economics and geography. Frequently class periods are spent studying American newspapers and magazines. The relatively new EDCAP program is another step towards the pacification of the Vietnamese.

Many villages that are the victims of the horrors of ware are dealt with more directly. The 145th Combat Aviation Battalion Civic Action Program is equipped to handle these cases, as it repeatedly distributes tons of food and clothing to disaster areas. From these contributions the people develop a basis for a new start.

In the midst of one of the most horrible wars of modern times, Civic Action has proven itself to be a valuable asset to the people building for the future. Civic Action and other Free World Assistance play a major role in helping the Vietnamese Government win the hearts and minds of its citizens. With the people firmly behind it, the government of Vietnam can make even longer strides toward the free country of tomorrow.



South Vietnam - A Country of Contrasts

South Vietnam -- 65,000 square miles -- is a country of many contrasts. From the Delta Region in the south to the country's most northern point along the demilitarized zone, the appearance of Vietnam's countryside takes on many changes. The rice-rich Mekong Delta, with its endless miles of rice paddies, is formed from the nine meandering mouths of the Mekong River. Further north, the flat, agrarian terrain is occasionally changed by peninsular mountains and lush valleys, breaking into the coastal plain. In this area around Saigon, majestic plantations stand tall amidst acres of rubber trees. Even further north, in the area known as the highlands, Vietnam serves mountains possessing unique beauty. This mountainous terrain is dominant northward to the DMZ.

A warm ocean replete with food, bathes the long coastline, which punctuates Vietnam's eastern horizon. The coastal beaches are broad and white; some of the ports rival Rio De Janeiro or San Francisco. The Republic of Vietnam, a green, fertile, tropical country, offers a surprising potential for national growth and economic prosperity, and though it is only one-half the size of Norway, it contains four times as many people.

Fifteen centuries before the first Europeans settled in America, a North to South population movement began in Southeast Asia, resulting in the settlement of Vietnam. From their homeland in China, the Viets migrated down the coast in large groups, made up of clans. The native peoples they replaced were forced into the mountains to become tribesmen. Today, these mountain tribesmen comprise only 4 per cent of the total population of Vietnam. The other 96 pr cent are ethnically Vietnamese (called Annamese in earlier times), a short, handsome, fine-boned people. The largest minority group is the Chinese, perhaps numbering one million; who live mainly in the south. There are some three million indigenous peoples, collectively call "Montagnards" (mountaineers), who live in the highlands. In the lowlands liver several thousand people of Cambodian descent.

Vietnam's long history shows many years of war that have severely hampered its massive potential for prosperity. Refugees from the ravaged countryside have fled to the cities to seek asylum. Once there, they have been forced to find new professions, totally unrelated to their occupations of the past. Prior to 1950, the result had been economically disastrous, as this forced city-movement in Vietnam was completely different from the natural movement to the cities in other countries. Whereas other countries found themselves with new and better economies, Vietnam, because of its population movement to the cities was forced, found itself with an unbalanced economy. Time and foreign aid proved themselves to be the catalysts necessary to bring about improvements. After 1950 Vietnam experienced periods of new growth unparalleled in its history, but its dependency upon foreign aid still exists.

Vietnam's economy today is as varied as its country and people. The vast majority of the inhabitants are farmers, as 80 per cent of its 31 million people till the land and live mainly in the delta and lowland coastal areas. The major food crop is rice. Approximately 46 per cent of Vietnam's land area is considered suitable for farming, yet only 20 per cent is currently under cultivation. The less fertile land in the northern regions contains deposits of coal and ores which serve as an industrial base for the country's future. Rubber is an important product in the lightly industrialized, mineral deficient South. Fish is a principal source of food for the Vietnamese. Rapidly developing as a major industry, saltwater fishing is done in 20 provinces along 900 miles of coastline, employing 250,000 Vietnamese people and 57,000 fishing boats. In land rivers and canals are fished, and in natural and artificial ponds, fish are bred and fattened for the family or for the market. New factories and industrial centers have developed in the cities, serving to develop finished products from the raw materials obtained from the rural areas. As Vietnam's growth continues, its cities will serve as the hub of the economy.