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Anatomy of a Cordon and Search (Continued)

While the sweep of the village continues, the villagers are instructed to congregate at the schoolhouse. Mass confusion is tempered by instructions filtering down from a helicopter's loudspeaker. Manning the loudspeakers are men from Psychological Operations (PSYOPS). Instructions for coordinating the assembly and the reason for the search come from the speakers.
Also present at the schoolhouse is the district chief. He aids in quelling the fears of his people and urges them to cooperate.

the informer informer

In all of this activity, an eight-year-old boy with a slouchy hat approaches one of the American MPs. Full attention is given to the lad. He may be the clue to the entire search for the mortar tube. He says the NVA come to the village almost every week. They approach from the south, duck out of sight then reappear to the west near the base.
Most of the search force quickly regroups at the south end of the village. Every now and then a piece of equipment or a radio component turns up. The trail is getting hot. A few more physical clues and more hints from the villagers lead the searchers to an area outside the village proper.

finding the booby trap

There, an inch or two of blue electrical wire is noticed as it contrasts against the green grass. As the wire is plucked from the earth, the search becomes more intense. At one end is a 100 foot roll of additional electrical wire. A command detonated booby trap is in the area. Following the wire to the other end, it disappears into an anthill. An hour of delicate digging yields the booby trap, a wired 155 artillery round.
This evokes more questioning at the schoolhouse. IDs are more carefully checked and specific questions concerning the booby trap are asked. However, no clues as to the whereabouts of the mortar tube are in the offing. But, some american lives have been saved by the discovery of the large booby trap.

booby trap

As the villagers start filtering back to their homes, the NPFFs, ARVNs, and MPs begin to gather for their return to their respective posts. A radio-telephone operator for the MPs calls the infantry units commander-the cordon is completed.
Rucksacks are picked up, weapons are given a once-over, and the grunts move out. Tomorrow might bring another cordon and search or a firefight. But today, in this cordon, American lives have been saved. The mission is a success.

booby trap search arvn soldiers wait to leave
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