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Enemy markers lead Alpha, 3-1 to six ton cache of polished rice from the Southern Cross for October 9, 1970

Copy of article provided by Dave Eckberg

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By SP4 Gregory Wright

FSB 4-11 (AMERICAL IO) — Aside from being one of the most versatile foods in the world and a cornerstone of the Vietnamese diet, rice is used almost exclusively as a ration by VC and NVA troops in the field.  Recently, the communist forces near this fire-base were undoubtedly tightening their belts, cursing "Lady Luck" and lamenting approximately six tons of rice lost to Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry of the 11th Brigade.

While making a routine recon of the terrain surrounding the village of Nui Tron, members of the 1st Platoon, Company A, decided to "take ten" in the shade of a hedgerow.  During their break several of the "Jungle Warriors" noticed that the area around them was covered with freshly dug earth and withering leaves.  Brushing the dying foliage away and probing the ground underneath, the men discovered a 55-gallon drum of polished rice, carefully sealed and deposited under the hedge.

Said Sergeant Jackie R. Collier, Cordele, Ga., platoon leader, "We were really surprised to find that we were practically sitting on top of a rice cache.  We immediately put a security force around the site and began a searching probe of the area.  It didn't take long for our efforts to pay off in a big way."

Ironically, markers which the enemy had carefully erected to aid them in finding their rations made the job easier for the infantrymen.  Private First Class Amby Sanchez, San Fransisco, commented, "I was searching slightly ahead of my squad when I noticed a small tree which seemed out of place.  The bark was all white and the trunk itself was bent and twisted about four feet from the ground.  We probed around the tree and found another 55-gallon drum of rice."  The search continued, turning up an additional drum of rice marked in the same manner, and yet another hidden under the floor of an abandoned French villa.

On the third day of the search the 1st Platoon could find nothing new early in the day and set up a night laager position.

Once settled, the men again spotted the familiar tell-tale sign of fresh earth and dying vegetation.  Beneath a leafy camouflage and dirt were bamboo mats and NVA ponchos, which in turn covered the entrance to a rice-filled bunker.  Sergeant John Cartwright, San Fernando, Calif., who supervised security and sacking of the rice, was especially impressed with the construction of the bunker.  "This place was better than any enemy bunker I've ever seen," he said.  "The beams were very solid and well placed, and the floor was equally good, having been made with doors from an old French church in the area."

One of the company's RTOs, who sampled some of the rice with his C-rations, commented, "This stuff isn't bad at all."  The rice was sent to the Tu My relocation center for distribution to the Vietnamese people.

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