weeds2During the wet season everything grows in Tay Ninh Vietnam. Tay Ninh is a large greenhouse with near perfect growing conditions for many plant types. Inside a fire base weeds were walked on, driven on, doused with various toxic weed killers, cut, burned, pulled and plucked but they still came. Tree growth exploded during the wet season and kept growing during the dry season. It was hot all year! Keeping our perimeter defenses clear of weeds required a different attack using more chemicals applied more often. Some units used a flame thrower to control weeds in the barbed wire but they were bulky and heavy to haul around in the blistering heat. In a mobile army weight and bulk limit what war tools are available so only mechanized units could carry bulky items like a flamethrower.

weeds1Most infantry units strung a single strand of barbed wire on small posts around the fire base. The wire was about six inches off the ground, ran in random directions, and was secured and drawn tight around a forest of short posts. Some weed growth was needed to hide this labyrinth but no more than a foot. Nam could grow that in two days so weeding this area took hours every day. It was easy to trip and fall while weeding but not easy to escape. The system worked! The purpose of this system was to prevent enemy soldiers crawling closer, unseen in weeds, before launching an assault on our FSB. The infantry was tasked with weeding and maintaining this defense formation. Lucky us!

A favorite punishment detail was being sent to clean the perimeter of Tay Ninh Base Camp. The perimeter was manned mostly by soldiers that hoped not to have guard duty again so they had little incentive to perform maintenance so small needed work accumulated over the weeks resulting in soft points for the enemy to attack base camp. I spent six days chopping weeds on such a detail and Tay Ninh base camp was much larger than I had imagined. Getting back to the fire base and away from that detail was a prayer answered.

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