Reds flee advancing U.S. units
MINH THANH, Vietnam— U.S. troops found at least seven hastily-evacuated enemy base camps Saturday as communist forces fled the massive American thrust in Operation Junction City.
Blood-soaked jungle trails led to the largest enemy camp, found by a battalion of the 1st Inf. Div.'s 1st Brigade two miles from the Cambodian border.
The regimental-size communist camp was ringed by concrete bunkers.
Five other company-size camps were found by units of the 1st Div. arid the 173d Airborne Brigade north of Tay Ninh.
Another enemy camp, discovered by a 1st Div. company, surrounded a communist mortar position six miles north of the Black Virgin Mountain.
The U.S. unit found mortar-firing data, tables written in both Vietnamese and English.
American forces in the huge operation — largest of the Vietnam war — were reinforced Thursday by two battalions of Republic of Vietnam marines in a blocking position.
Military spokesmen reported 49 communists killed in the first three days of the operation and listed U.S. losses as light.
The operation is part of an allied pincer to encircle the Viet Cong's supreme Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN).
A COSVN agent was captured Thursday by a battalion of the 1st Inf. Div. a few miles from the Cambodian frontier.
The agent reportedly told his American captors he was a member of a COSVN signal company assigned to follow U.S. units and report on their activities.
He reportedly led U.S. troops to his communist command radio.
A unit of the 3d Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., found a downed U.S. B-57 Canberra bomber Saturday while on patrol in the operation.
The body of one member of the plane's 2-man crew was found inside. Military spokesmen in Saigon said the plane was lost Jan. 21 over the western edge of War Zone C.
Three other U.S. aircraft were downed Thursday. Spokesmen said an Air Force F-4C Phantom crashed 41 miles southwest of the delta city of Can.Tho. Cause of the crash is unknown. Both pilots bailed out and were guided to a Special Forces camp nearby.
Five American servicemen were killed when a Marine UH-34D helicopter went down 13 miles northwest of Hue.
In the third crash, an Observation plane was shot down by enemy fire 40 miles southwest of Da Lat. The pilot was killed.