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WITH AMERICAN ARMOR IN THE FISH HOOK, Cambodia — Thirty-five pounds of peanuts will go a long way at a cocktail party.

That's what troopers of the 11th Armored Cav. Regt. thought when they uncovered the peanuts in a food cache here as they ran through Communist supply dumps.

The troops turned up tons of rice, 35 pounds of peanuts, six bicycles, NVA gardens, and networks of underground bunkers and five scared Chieu Hois, but no major enemy units or titled officers.

Two of the Chieu Hois were suffering from malaria. Kien Cong Tien, 20, said he caught malaria soon after leaving Hanoi for the long march south. He said he had never seen combat.

He told interrogators that a few days earlier political officers had beaten to death two men in his infiltration unit who had been caught trying to desert.

Tien said his unit left him behind. He said no one had told him the Americans were moving toward him into Cambodia. The interrogators believed his story.

The sun baked the U.S. armor crews wrestling with multi-hundred-pound rockets for tank tracks and muscling new road wheels onto their armored cavalry assault vehicles.

Some foresighted drivers and track commanders unfurled black umbrellas to ward off the Cambodian sun.

There was little physical evidence to mark their position across the border. The terrain seemed a little more open, according to helicopter pilots. ACAV driver John Lay said the spiders were a lot bigger in Cambodia.

The excitement of crossing the border and hearing of it on the radio had dimmed. It seemed just another hot day with only minimal contact.

The dismounted crewmen found vegetable gardens, chicken coops, hog pens and reinforced wooden bunkers — some of them filled with ammunition. Other scouts to the north along Route 7 had reported vehicles hidden behind trees, motor pools containing parked trucks, and oil dumps.


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