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Defend and BefriendThe U.S. Marine Corps and Combined Action Platoons in Vietnam$
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John Southard

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145266

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145266.001.0001

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Life in a Combined Action Platoon

Life in a Combined Action Platoon

(p.71) Chapter Four Life in a Combined Action Platoon
Defend and Befriend

John Southard

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter describes the experiences of the Marines and corpsmen in the villages. It highlights how the Americans adapted to and eventually overcame many of the social and cultural obstacles that threatened to undermine the overall military success of CAP units. Personal and unit survival for the Americans hinged heavily on creating and maintaining amicable relations with the villagers, which proved to be a daunting task. During the opening weeks of a CAP's existence, mutual distrust between the Americans and villagers minimized social interaction. Performing civic action helped to bridge the wide social and cultural gap. Americans procured materials for local village construction projects, such as man-made ponds, drinking wells, schools, and office buildings. The corpsman, or medic, became the most critical element in fostering social interaction. At a central location in the village, the corpsman provided daily medical services for all villagers, who often lined up by the hundreds to receive treatment for everything from stomachaches to life-threatening injuries. The gradual eradication of Viet Cong influence coupled with increased social interaction led to villagers divulging intelligence about recent and upcoming Viet Cong whereabouts and movements.

Keywords:   Corpsman, Medic, CAPs, Combined action platoons, Civic action, Viet Cong

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