On the night of December 23, 1964, Communist Viet Cong guerrillas pressed night attacks against several Republic of Vietnam (RVN) outposts in the Mekong River delta. Defenders at one such government stronghold radioed for fire support, and soon the sound of two radial engines were heard in the dark sky. As flares dropped from the aircraft, the VC interrupted its assault to wait for the plane and its flares to leave the area. The guerrillas had used this tactic many times before to frustrate the brief advantage given the entrenched government forces by the powerful flares dropped by U.S. and RVN Air Force C-47 (the venerable Douglas DC-3) flareships.
As the VC went to ground, a roar, as if from some unseen dragon, filled the night as streams of fire and death licked the earth from above. Every few seconds the roar stopped, only to return from another direction, but still directed at the guerrillas below. Faced by a devastating new weapon, the VC withdrew. Later that night, the scenario was repeated farther south at Trung Hung to relieve another besieged garrison.
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