LZ SALLY - The division's "Kit Carson" program here is training former Viet Cong as scouts to help the Screaming Eagles find the enemy and avoid boobytraps.
"Already we have 18 scouts working with the infantry companies," said Lt. David Hendry, East Hartford, Conn., 2nd Brigade psychological operations officer. "They are former Viet Cong who surrendered in our area of operation and therefore are familiar with the area we send them to."
The scout working with Co. A, lst Bn., 501st Inf., for example, is able to walk into a village and point out the Viet Cong, according to Lt. Walter Shelton Albany, Ore. a platoon leader.
"He's a great help when it comes to checking the authenticity of personal papers and identification cards," Shelton said. "He also has an uncanny ability to detect signs and objects signifying that boobytraps or the enemy are nearby."
In the short time the scouts have been with the 2nd Brigade they have performed well and earned the respect and praise of the air cavalrymen.
Shelton recalls a time when his point squad was moving through heavy underbrush and his scout suddenly froze still. Immediately the troopers took the cue and stopped dead still, too," Shelton explained.
The scout advanced cautiously and uncovered a trip wire leading to a boobytrap that would have blown on contact.
The Kit Carson scout program was set up to make use of enemy soldiers who surrendered under the "Chieu Hoi" program and showed a desire to battle their former comrades.
Through a series of tests the "Chieu Hois" are screened for the program. Those accepted are trained by Americans and Government troops before being sent as scouts to infantry units.