An Xuan Village

Popular Forces
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Last Updated
25 June 2016
18th MP
89th MP
720th MP
Dedicated to all our brother MPs who served at Outpost -1, and especially Bob Alicea, who gave his all, and Jim Brunotte who against all odds won the fight of his life to remain with us. Your memories will burn eternally in our hearts.
PFC Bob Alicea



PFC Jim Brunotte

   Most of the more specific details of some of the missions carried out by this unit are incorporated into the chronology of the more comprehensive daily Battalion Time Line from 1967 through September 1970 denoted by TAOR:, and linked from this page for your review. If you find a specific mission or incident that is not listed or linked, please notify the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

An Xuan Village

     Of the four principal villages located within the 22 square mile Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR), An Xuan Village had the harshest living conditions, and was the most hazardous outpost assignment for the men of the 720th MP Battalion.

     Located in the south western portion of the TAOR it was the third largest, and most rural village with a population of approximately 1,200.


   It was bordered on the west by the Dong Nai River and on the north and east by a vast expanse rice paddies, marsh and tidal streams.

   To the south was a densely wooded area that eventually opened into another large expanse of rice paddies that continued for several thousand meters to a final wooded area situated on the heel of the TAOR boot.

   Because of its proximity to the river the village was also surrounded by several swift tidal streams and marshland. Until 1968 when the US Army built the new bridges (Friendship Bridge) over the two northern streams as part of a civic action program to improve the village economy, transportation to and from An Xuan was limited to helicopter, boat or foot.

   The village economy consisted of rice farming and fishing with the exception of one large brick manufacturing factory that was situated along the river. Some of the villagers (very few) also worked on Long Binh Post.

   Of the four principal villages within the TAOR, An Xuan was the most hostile towards the US military and Vietnamese government, and very sympathetic to the Viet Cong movement. This was due primarily to it's isolation because of lack of a roadway before the completion of the new bridges in July of 1968.

   Harassment and sniper fire of one sort or another on the outpost was almost a weekly routine.

The Outpost
Welcome to Dog Patch, the end of the road.

"Get out, it's the end of the road".... The words all new MP's would hear when their jeep or boat arrived to drop them off at B Company Outpost-1, in An Xuan Village.

   Little did they know at the time that that was the best description for their new assignment. None of the training they received in MP School at Fort Gordon, Georgia had prepared them for this type of assignment.

Welcome to An Xuan Island

    If you were the type of person that liked the outdoors as a kid, roughing it, primitive camping in the woods, eating from a can, minimum hygienic standards, critters that crawl on you 24/7, you would get by. If you didn't, well you would have to learn to get by.

   For the MP's it was the most spartan lifestyle of any Military Police unit in Vietnam, and of the four Military Police/Popular Forces static posts in the battalion Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) it was the worst.

Looking back from the entrance
   The grounds around the tower, approximately one acre in size, were hand cleared and a barbed wire perimeter and trench line encircled it. The operational area of the outpost appeared much smaller due to the fact that the majority of land surrounding it was subject to tidal marsh encroachment. Several sand bag reinforced defensive strong points were staggered along the perimeter at at each corner.

   The dominant physical structure of the outpost was an old two story, 25’ by 30’ clay brick watch tower with firing ports built into each level of the four walls. It was constructed under the French Watch Tower program during the first Indochina War, sometime in the late 1940's and 50's, and served a similar purpose then as it did during the Vietnam War.

     The digging of trenches to connect the perimeter bunkers was often a futile effort because of the marsh water encroachment. They would fill up with water, become stagnant and contribute to the already terrible mosquito problem.

     The tidal marsh in itself produced an over abundance of mosquitoes and other swamp creatures, like the ever present leeches, to invade the living area and clothing of the MP's stationed there. Even in the dry season the humidity and stench from the stagnant water filled the air and clung to your body and clothing.

   When manpower was available, Outpost-1 was staffed by four to five 720th MP’s with a Specialist Forth Class (SP/4) in charge. It was very rare to see a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO), assigned there.

   The MPs were augmented by approximately 15 Regular Force/Popular Force (RF/PF) Vietnamese Village Militia, commanded by their own NCO. In times of imminent danger, ambush teams would be assigned to bolster the outpost defensive strength from the interior or set up on the approaches just outside.

   The MPs. armament consisted of M-14 rifles, one 40mm M-79 grenade launcher, M-60 machine gun, assorted hand grenades, hand flares, Claymore anti personnel mines, trip flares, and M72 LAW's (Light Anti Tank shoulder fired rockets). Eventually, a Starlight night vision scope was also assigned.

   The RF/PF armament was a limited assortment of surplus WWII and Korean War vintage small arms, which were handed down among the RF/PF’s when their shifts changed. PF's were not permitted to take their weapons from the outpost home with them.

   The MPs and PFs also had their own separate tactical radios. Land line communications, although technically unreliable and often interrupted by enemy harassment and the weather conditions, connected the outpost’s to each other and the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) on Long Binh Post.

   When not patrolling the village during day and night, life at the outpost evolved around a routine of constant vigilance for enemy activity and maintenance on the outpost security features, and the ever present grass and weeds that seemed to grow back to their original height overnight.

   On occasion the men stationed at the outpost would be called upon to assist other battalion elements with various tactical operations within their area, or to act as security for Civic Action Programs which were very limited before 12 July due to lack of vehicular access to the area.

   Water, ammunition and supplies were carried in by boat or jeep and the daily meals consisted of standard C-Rations, or lovingly referred to as Rat's....no further explanation needed. Occasionally the meals would be supplemented by perishable items that the men would obtain on post or in the village and keep in a cooler when ice was available from the village.

   For entertainment there was always Armed Forces Radio Vietnam or if you were lucky, the men would chip in and purchase a cheap TV at the post exchange. When the small generator wasn’t working there were always batteries for the radio, but then the television was out of commission.

   Whenever they could, the MP's also spent time entertaining the young children from the village and those of the PF's that worked at the outpost.

   For a bathroom the MP's utilized a standard scrap lumber constructed crapper situated over a ditch filled with swamp water. It was a great place to collect critters of all sizes and descriptions. If you didn't feel comfortable sitting, you learned to squat like your Vietnamese counterparts.

   Potable (drinking) water was at a premium. As far as washing, you did the best you could from a five gallon Jerry can of water and your helmet, unless it rained, then it was outdoor showers for everyone.

   During early 1968 each MP was allowed to come into the company area on post, once a week, get a hot shower, a meal at the battalion mess hall, pick up the mail, and shop at the post exchange (PX) before having to return before dark.

   Due to it's remoteness the men very seldom received any visits from battalion brass, let along the regular routine VIP tours conducted at Outpost #2 to it's north. This was the only benefit of working there.

   The only interaction between the men at the outpost and the rest of the company would occasionally occur when the platoon leader and NCO (which was very rare after SFC DeHart left), or members of an ambush squad or river patrol might stop by while working the area.

   When morale really got bad they would walk to Outpost-2 for a few hours or talk when the supplies were delivered in the early morning at the old foot bridges. This roadway wasn't traveled by vehicle after dark. Daily contact and the the flow of visitors improved slightly with construction of the new bridges after July 1968.

   Many an MP stationed at Outpost-1 would search his sole trying to determine what he did in his life prior to the Army to ever deserve this kind of punishment.

September At the start of Operation STABILIZE the 720th MP Battalion combined ambush platoon commanded by 1LT Wilkerson of B Company evaluated the four Popular Forces outpost within the Tactical Area of Responsibility. It is still unknown exactly when the first MPs were stationed at each.

Mar-Apr-May A reconstruction program was initiated to improve the outpost defensive and living conditions. Additional barbed wire was added to the fences, sandbagging and strengthening of existing bunkers and the outpost tower was a priority.

   There were also periodic sniper and PSYOPS operations directed at the outpost and village by the local VC who often used loud speakers to threaten the MP's.

22 March Just after 2400 hours (midnight) the Viet Cong cut the field telephone land line that connects OP-1 with OP-2. Battalion Tactical Operations Command (TOC) reported there was heavy VC movement in the area. The Land Line from OP#2 to TOC was still operational.

23 March Three 122mm Rockets fired from the west, across the Dong Nai River (1st Infantry Division AO), landed inside the Village of An Xuan. Four villagers were killed and eight were wounded. An Ambush Team under the command of SGT Ed Hall, B Company, left the safety of the outpost and entered the village and evacuated the wounded to the outpost perimeter. There they set up a security perimeter until the wounded villagers were flown out to the hospital by several Dust Off choppers.

27 March The local Viet Cong in An Xuan Village ambushed two Canh Sat’s (Vietnamese National Police) outside the village. Two village children were killed.

June A construction project to replace the two foot bridges across the swift running tidal canals that connected An Xuan with Long Hung was begun.

   These bridges were well beyond the financial, technical, and logistical ability of the local villagers so the Civic Action Team had them constructed through the assistance of the military using the local MP’s and Army Engineers of D Company, 46th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade. Security for the construction site, and later the bridges, was provided by B Company.

12 July The bridge construction project was completed and the bridges dedicated.

September Exact date unknown, The outpost personnel consisted of SSG Gray NCOIC, PFC Robert Alicea, PFC James R. Brunotte, and PFC Kemper. At the end of the month PFC Kemper was reassigned and replaced by PFC Baker. PFC's Kemper and Baker may have been members of D or C Company, 87th Infantry (Rifle Security), 95th MP Battalion.

   WANTED: Anyone that can further verify their identifications and unit, please notify the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

10 September SP/4 William R. Cheney, B Company, was informed by an unknown PF at 1030 hours [10:30AM], that there was a case of 105 Howitzer shells in the village of An Xuan. SP/4 Cheney went into the village and at 1050 hours [10:50AM], found a case of what appeared to be 8” Howitzer charges at Grid Coordinates [map location] YT026012. The case was intact and appeared to have been setting in the water for quite some time. Because of the location they were found in, it is very probable that they fell off an ammunition barge in the Dong Nai River. There were approximately 12 to 16 rounds in the case.

1230 hours (12:30PM), a 3rd Ordinance EOD Team, SP/4 Meters and SFC Shade, identified the 8” artillery charges as, 8” MI propellant, solid green class B propellant explosive. The EOD team had the charges towed out to the middle of the river and blew same with the use of detonator charges. The Lot# of the found charges was RAD #65992.

15 September At 2053 hours (8:53PM) B Company element #62 apprehended a Vietnamese male believed to be a draft dodger in the vicinity of the An Xuan brick factory at Grid Coordinates (map location) YT026014. The suspect was transported to the 720th MP Battalion S2 (Intelligence & Security) for interrogation. The suspect was interrogated by 702nd Military Intelligence and found to be an innocent civilian and released.

1 October A VC land mine explosion resulted in the death of  PFC Robert Alicea and the serious wounding of  PFC James Brunotte  of B Company, who both lived and worked at Outpost #1. The wife and daughter of a local PF sergeant were also seriously wounded but survived.

3 October SP/4 Rainer Trappe was reassigned to the outpost from the River Patrol Unit to help supplement the manpower due to the loss of PFC's Alicea and Brunotte.

PFC Alicea
PFC Brunotte
By The Light Of An Oil Lamp SP/4 Rainer “Hippie” Trappe, B Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, March 1968 to March 1969.
Staff Photographs







SP/4 Hartwig
SP/4 Trappe
SP/4 Buckner
SSG Gray
PFC Kemper
PFC Baker
Miscellaneous Photographs
 SGT Hartwig, SP/4 Zavilla, Reedy, and Dan Duttola, on patrol in An Xuan Village.

23 February The 274th North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Regiment of the 5 NVA Division attacked the southern perimeter of Long Binh Post. The thrust came right through the eastern sector of the Tactical Area of Responsibility avoiding the more populated western sector where the four B Company outpost were located.

   After the 23 February Post Tet attack on Long Binh Post the security priority shifts from the villages and outpost to the unpopulated eastern sector of the TAOR. By the end of the summer most of the MP's on outpost duty are reassigned to other assignments and the local Popular Forces units take primary responsibility at the outposts.

2 August All outpost missions in the TAOR were terminated. B Company abandoned the two fortified command post, the outpost on Hill-15 and the Finger of Land, built in the spring of 1969. The fortifications at both locations were destroyed.

   The Village Outpost's staffed from late 1967, Outpost-#1 An Xuan, Outpost--2 Long Hung, Outpost-#3 An Hoa Hung and Ootpost--4 Long Binh Tan, were turned over to the local Popular Forces units. All B Company personnel withdrawn from the facilities were committed to increased reconnaissance and ambush missions within the Tactical Area of Responsibility.

Staff Photographs

SP/4 Hanke
SP/4 Miller
Miscellaneous Photographs
 Unidentified member of the village Popular Forces platoon.
 SP/4's Hanke & Miller on a supply run.
25 July A result of the Vietnamization Program, Operation STABILIZE came to an end when all B Company missions in the Tactical Area of Responsibility were turned over to the Army of The Republic of South Vietnam (ARVN) and the 25th Infantry Division now stationed at Bearcat.
25th Infantry

June 1995 PFC (Ret) James R. Brunotte was one of thirteen members of the Point Man Ministries group to visit Vietnam on a missionary trip to Saigon and Song Be. The ministry is a non-denominational organization comprised of civilians and veterans.

   During the mission Jim took a side trip to visit the former 720th MP Battalion Tactical Area of Responsibility, and the place where his former partner PFC Bob Alicea was killed and he was severely wounded by a land mine on 1 October 1968. Only this time instead of a rifle, he was carrying bibles.


Combined 1968 overview photograph, and satellite map of Outpost-1 area, taken in 2006 >

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