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FROM THE ARCHIVES

'Eagle Flights' prey on fleeing Viet Cong

South Vietnam, April, 1967: Helicopters stream in to take soldiers from the 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division on an "Eagle Mission" to investigate suspicious activity and round up Viet Cong suspects in Hau Nghia province.

TOM DREILING/STARS AND STRIPES

By THOMAS DREILING | Stars and Stripes | Published: May 1, 1967

CU CHI, Vietnam — Swooping down on a village in Huey choppers, "Wolfhounds" from the 25th Inf. Div. pounced upon enemy suspects to start another Eagle Mission in Hau Nghia province.

For the men of the B. Company, 27 Infantry, 25th Infantry Divison, it was to have been a routine operation, but this time it was different.

“It was like cowboys rounding up the bad guys on TV,” said one trooper after capturing a fleeing suspect. “Never has an Eagle Mission run so smoothly for our company,” said Capt. Thomas B. Mannix, the company commander.

From the start, running out of the choppers, the men of B Co. were conscious of their objective: To investigate any suspicious activity and hold all suspicious persons.

“There's one over there taking off on 'a bicycle,” shouted a trooper. Too far away -to chase the suspect on foot, Mannix radioed one of the two orbiting choppers with a five-man team to go after the fleeing man. There are always two choppers overhead for this purpose.

Communication is a vital link in the operation. Keeping constant contact with his platoons and orbiting choppers, Mannix maneuvered each unit and overtook the fleeing suspect on the other side of the village. Sixteen others were picked up.

With the roundup complete, Mannix calls in the interpreter for interrogation.

The only way the suspects have of retaining their freedom is their ID card. If the description and birth dates match the individual's appearance, he is released. Those who don't have an ID card, or for some reason if the description and date on the card don't match the individual, the suspect is taken to the district headquarters for further questioning.

He may turn out to be a Viet Cong or draft dodger.

Mission completed, the company is lifted to another village. The same tactics in searching the village and securing the area are used. In neither village did the "Wolfhounds" encounter enemy mines, ambush or sniper fire, but they know it can happen any time.

Not all Eagle Missions run smoothly as this one did.

Sometimes heavy enemy mortar fire or small arms fire is encounter- ed. This is when the reserve platoon back at Cu Chi is called in. There is always help available. Along with the two platoons at the base camp, there are other airborne gunships in the area ready to come to the rescue if needed.

Today's operation went smoothly, but tomorrow is another day.

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