As we continued our training there were aspects that had changed since my ITR experience in 1964. We were indoctrinated on the Geneva Convention and what it meant to be a prisoner of war. There were rules against torture, and both sides in war were required to treat prisoners humanely (once an enemy soldier was in custody they could not be harmed physically). In the original training after boot camp, there was no discussion of this subject. Had something changed?
We were taught that if taken prisoner we should try to escape. The longer in captivity, the less chance of a successful get-a-way. All of us were convinced we would never be taken captive in the first place.
Some of the Marines were getting bored and started to yawn. As they did, an instructor would move them out of the classroom bleachers and into a holding area; they became prisoners for the next exercise. Finally about half our company were prisoners, and the trainers coached the remainder of us on how to search a prisoner for weapons.
We learned commands in Vietnamese, CHIEU HOI (surrender)! CAN CUOC (identification card)! DUNG LAI (stop)! LAI DAY (come here)!
After a hot lunch in the mess hall, we had a class on hydration and how to purify water with Halazone tablets. A single chlorine-based tablet would treat a full canteen of water in 30 minutes. We also learned to recognize and diagnose heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke. There was a demonstration by a Hospital Corpsman on treating the symptoms and the dangers of cooling a victim too fast.
The remainder of the day was all about emergency battlefield treatments with an emphasis on stopping bleeding. We learned the importance of a tourniquet and how to use pressure on a wound.
The day ended with us setting up a Medevac perimeter to protect the incoming helicopter. There was no helicopter in the exercise, but we understood the implication of getting casualties out safely.
Next Edition: All Day Patrol