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This memoir on the Vietnam War completed by Robert R. Amon Jr. is currently awaiting a publication date.

 

 

This domain name and website is currently under construction, being developed for the initial introduction and promotion of Rice Roots.

 

 

Please email Mr. Amon for any information on the book, this website, or the use of the book title Rice Roots. This website will include photos and sample chapters. Thank you for your interest in Rice Roots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter 1

'On My Honor'

 

JANUARY 26, 1969

Letter Home:

Dear Folks,

Hope everything is okay back home! Advisor School starts tomorrow and I’m in a safe area for now. We’re going to be learning Vietnamese. We’re going to be assigned to infantry slots because they are short of infantry lieutenants in the field. I’ll be living with South Vietnamese units and accompanying them on all their daytime patrols and night ambushes. I don’t know how I wound up with this job but it is considered the most essential U.S. effort in this stage of the war. I think it will be a long 12 months but I have developed a feeling to where I would like to help the Vietnamese help themselves. Food is pretty good here. They’re going to keep us busy learning Vietnamese, but I’ll write again when I get a chance.diary

Love, Bob

JANUARY 26, 1969

Diary Entry:

Slept in. Last chance to enjoy myself. Many infantry, artillery, and armor combat branch officers attending the school. Don’t like what I hear about the Mekong Delta. A lot of VC strongholds. One almost resigns oneself to being hit at least once while down there. This work will be interesting though. The South Vietnamese very much want and need our help. My assignment will be in Kiến Giáng Province. The U.S. 9th Infantry Division is operating between there and Saigon.

On this date I found out my assignment: Kiến Giáng Province. Drawing Kiến Giáng with its U-Minh Forest was like drawing the “old maid.” But I wouldn’t have been happy being confined to a desk job or a supply tent for my tour of duty. I hadn’t come to Vietnam for that. I wanted to see the real war, I wanted to know what it was really like. I was tired of seeing the United States “pussyfooting” around in Vietnam. In my mind, the only thing worse than going to Vietnam was going to Vietnam and not taking part in getting it over with. "What an adventure this is going to be!" I thought. Was I in over my head? Did I bite off more than I could chew? I don’t know. Gotta get some sleep and go to class in the morning.Sandbags

JANUARY 27, 1969

Diary Entry:

0630 a.m.: Up and shaved. 0730 a.m.: Started classes on Vietnamese language. Also had classes on RF and PF forces. Regional Forces operate in company sweeps looking for Vietcông. Popular Forces work at platoon level. Vocabulary is hard to pick up. We get 40 words a day to learn - attend class till 7:30 sometimes 8:30 pm- not too much time for personal study to learn the words.

I knew little of South Vietnam’s Regional Forces (RFs) and Popular Forces (PFs). Regional Force and Popular Force units were ground troops assigned to a specific village area or “district” within the province from which they had been recruited. In effect, they were district militia, locally recruited “guard.” The RFs and PFs were responsible for hunting down local Vietcông and protecting the villages (and the hamlets within the villages) within their districts. They were often under-trained and under-equipped to fight their usually better-equipped counterparts.

JANUARY 28, 1969

Diary Entry:

0730: Attended classes on the mission of MAT - (Mobile Advisory Team) to RF/PF forces in Vietnam. We will be expected to go along on operations and night ambushes with the South Vietnamese. We will be assigned to 5-man teams and sometimes might not see big American units unless they are passing through. Had 2-hour class on the M-1 carbine. This is an old U.S. rifle which is outdated in our Army but currently used by South Vietnamese forces against NVA and V.C. Most of them don’t have the M16 rifle yet.

By Tuesday morning I had a pretty clear picture of what my job was going to be in Vietnam. Mobile Advisory Teams (MATs) consisted of five men, each being responsible for a specific area of expertise, a compact version of the twelve-man Green Beret teams. The composition of a MAT team was as follows: one team leader, an assistant team leader (both junior officers), a heavy weapons NCO (non-commissioned officer), a light weapons NCO and a medic. Each team was assigned one South Vietnamese interpreter. The MAT team stayed in the field 100% of the time, at no time being allowed to rotate back to a “rear” area. One team member could be absent from the team, but only with permission from headquarters. Team strength was allowed to drop to a total of four men therefore, provided there remained at least one medic and one officer in charge.

I began to get the impression that this job was going to be complicated and difficult. It didn’t take me long to imagine the enormity of the role: advise troops already in combat. Show them how to be better. Help them win, and do it with no practical experience of my own! I felt that the Army had prepared me well, however. Or maybe I had prepared myself well. My Eagle Scout, leadership-building days in the Boy Scouts and countless hours spent outdoors and on rifle ranges gave me some self-assurance.

I chose to think positively, to look forward to being an advisor, confident that I would do my best. And this time at Advisor School was going to be my last opportunity to get ready. Freedom was in the air at the Advisor School in South Vietnam in early 1969. Back home, on college campuses, one would never know it. But the chimes of freedom were flashing all around us as we readied ourselves to go out into the field and help the South Vietnamese people defend themselves against a communistic way of life.

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