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'Always First' find cache from the Southern Cross for June 26, 1970

Copy of article provided by Alan G. Vitters

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By SP4 Peter R. Sorenson

FSB BRONCO (11th INF BDE IO) — Company A, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry didn't just happen into a large rice cache during operations three miles northwest of Quang Ngai City.  The "Always First" of the 11th Infantry Brigade were working on a highly educated guess.  Revealed Lieutenant Colonel Roger A. Culbertson, Longview, Wash., battalion commander, "We have uncovered five to six tons of concealed rice and expect the total to reach ten tons.  This rice has been taken from a VC controlled village.  We had expected to find a cache, because we have often detained VC in this area with money and orders to buy rice from the villagers."

Colonel Culbertson went on to explain that the local farmers were allowed by law to have on and at any one time a certain amount of rice described in a written permit.  Hidden rice, regardless of quantity, is a violation of the law.  Great quantities of hidden rice usually prove earmarked for VC agents and extortionist.  On a mission of this nature one always operates with the local Vietnamese authorities.  During this search the district chief has been present.

Reported Specialist Four Larry W. Bell, Ft. Smith, Ark., "We found rice all over the place...polished and unpolished.  It was found in hay stacks, under hooch floors and in berms around the ville.  Some hooches had three or four home-made 55 gallon metal drums of rice buried under their floors."

Finding the rice is fairly easy compared to recovering the valuable commodity.  The intense summer heat complicates the already dirty and heavy labor of shoveling the buried drums half empty, lifting it and finally trucking the rice out of the ville to a collection point where it is bagged and awaits air transportation to Tu My refugee resettlement village.

The local VC have been hurt by the 11th Infantry Brigade action against his food stores. Defensive positions have been harrassed by incoming sniper rounds. Said Captain Alan G. Vitters, Long Island, N.Y., "Last night we had two 'lob bombs' thrown at us.  The local VC are definitely upset at our discoveries."

Each day the men continue to reclaim the hidden rice.  It is hard work but the men know that they are inflicting a heavy toll on the enemy without firing a shot.

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