In the Mouth of the Dragon

Memoir of a District Advisor in the Mekong Delta, 1971–1973


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About the Book

On his second tour in Vietnam, U.S. Army Captain John Haseman served 18 months as a combat advisor in the Mekong Delta’s Kien Hoa Province. His detailed memoir gives one of the few accounts of a district-level advisor’s experiences at the “point of the spear.” Often the only American going into combat with his South Vietnamese counterparts, Haseman highlights the importance of trust and confidence between advisors and their units and the courage of the men he fought with during the 1972 North Vietnamese summer offensive. Among the last advisors to leave the field, Haseman describes the challenges of supporting his counterparts with fewer and fewer resources, and the emotional conclusion of an advisory mission near the end of the Vietnam War.

About the Author(s)

Retired Colonel John B. Haseman spent 18 of his 30-year army career in Asia, an interest sparked by his 18-month assignment as a district advisor in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam. Those months in combat, working with the lowest level of South Vietnamese military forces, formed the basis of his interest in Southeast Asia and determined the course of his later career advancement in assignments in Thailand, Indonesia, and Burma. He is the author or co-author of four books and more than 250 published journal articles about political-military developments in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. He lives in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

John B. Haseman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 277
Bibliographic Info: 52 photos, appendices, glossary, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8890-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4680-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 3
Prologue 9
1. So, You Want to Be a District Advisor? 13
2. Settling In, Hàm Long District 24
3. Into the Field 42
4. New Geography, New Terrain, New Soldiers 55
5. Villages, Hamlets, Outposts, and the HES Report 70
6. First Contact 83
7. Dry Season Operations in Hàm Long District 89
A Pause: From Night to Day 108
8. The Big Celebrations—And One Small One 111
9. Little Things That Meant a Lot 116
10. Beyond Hàm Long 129
11. Moving to Mỏ Cày District 138
12. A New Environment in Mỏ Cày 146
13. Mỏ Cày’s Higher Operations Tempo 152
14. Tragedy and Courage in Thành Thới 161
15. North Vietnamese Army Invades Hàm Long District 170
16. District Senior Advisor, Hàm Long District 180
17. Hàm Long Soldiers Gain the Upper Hand 197
18. A Brave Vietnamese Lieutenant 208
19. Final Return to Mỏ Cày District 211
A Pause: The Importance of Trust 229
20. When a Cease-Fire Is Not a Cease-Fire 231
21. Sergeant First Class Hồ Văn Bé: Loyal, Reliable, Unforgettable 235
22. A Good Advisor but Not a Hero 239
23. The Aftermath 242
Appendix I: Citation for Award of the Silver Star 249
Appendix II: Performance Evaluation Reports 250
Appendix III: Post–Vietnam Career Assignments and Awards 252
Appendix IV: Military Terminology 255
Chapter Notes 259
Index 263

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Recommend”—VVA Veteran

• “For a book to hold my interest it must accomplish two things: it must be well written, and it must tell a compelling story. Author John B. Haseman has succeeded in both instances.”—Counterparts