Cambodian troops, trained in south Vietnam by American Green Berets, dislodged the Vietcong from the Mekong river port of Ton Le Bet in an amphibious operation that took more than a week.
TROOPS BOARDING LANDING CRAFT FOR TRIP TO EAST BANK OF MEKONG
LANDING CRAFT CROSSING RIVER AND WIDE SHOT OF SKY (POSSIBLY SHOWING U.S. PHANTOM IN PICTURE) SHOTS OF DEVASTATED TOWN
DESERTED DEVASTATED STREETS
WOUNDED CAMBODIAN SOLDIER BEING EVACUATED ON STRETCHER BY WESTERN REPORTERS & SOLDIERS
MINIATURE CAMBODIAN MORTAR IN ACTION - THEN LONG SHOT OF SMOKE RISING FROM SURROUNDING FOREST
CAMBODIAN TROOPS LOOTING AND LIVING IT UP WITH RICE WINE, WHISKY, STOLEN TROPHIES ETC SOLDIERS DOING DRAGON DANCE
TROOPS LOOTING SHOPS & TRYING TO SMASH SAFE INSIDE STORE
FOREST AND ROAD MARKER AT EDGE OF TOWN, THEN BACK TO DRUNKEN, CELEBRATING TROOPS
SOLDIERS CHANGING CHICKENS
REVELLING SOLDIERS (CONT)
HANGEN ON CAMERA CLOSER
REPORTER: WELLES HANGEN
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Background: Cambodian troops, trained in south Vietnam by American Green Berets, dislodged the Vietcong from the Mekong river port of Ton Le Bet in an amphibious operation that took more than a week.
No American advisers were visible because the town lies beyond Press. Nixon's limit for U.S. penetration of Cambodia.
Ton Le Bet was reduced to rubble by Cambodian artillery and south Vietnamese bombers after the Vietcong were reported in the city. The 15,000 residents had fled. Ton Le Bet now ranks as the most thoroughly destroyed Cambodian town.
By the time Cambodian troops finally entered Ton Le Bet, most of the Vietnamese communities had slipped away.
One Cambodian soldier was seriously wounded by a sniper's bullet. He was evacuated with the help of 2 Western newsmen. The Cambodians replied by mortaring the suspected sniper hide-outs.
The danger of snipers didn't deter the Cambodian mercenaries from collecting their booty from what remained of Ton Let Bet. They did dragon dances in the streets. They carried off rice wine, transistor radios and other tokens of victory. They looted the shops and even tried to break open any safes the Vietcong had overlooked.
The Vietcong were still holed up just outside town, but the conquerors of Tin Le Bet were more interested in chasing chickens for supper always lived in south Vietnam, the Khmeres Kroms, or Cambodian mercenaries, behaved more like occupiers than liberators.
Another victory like Ton Le Bet may be more than Cambodia can stand. If the Cambodian people have anything to say about it, they may prefer to be overrun by their enemies than ravaged by their friends. When it comes to looting, pillage and general piracy, the Vietnamese communists are about on a par with Cambodia's eager defenders from south Vietnam, even when the defenders, as in this case, are ethnic Cambodians. The sacking of Ton Le Bet will help convince many Cambodians that ideology has little to do with this war and that their real enemies are simply outsiders, specially outsiders from Vietnam, north or south.
This is Welles Hangen, NBC News, in the former city of Ton Le Bet, Cambodia.