Thursday, April 27, 1972

3rd Time's a Charm As Captain Escapes

PLEIKU, Vietnam (AP) --"I don't think they were taking any prisoners," said Capt. Raymond H. Dobbins after his escape through North Vietnamese lines by the dark of the moon. A systematic search by the enemy missed his position.

Dobbins, 35, of Marietta, Ga., an adviser to the South Vietnamese, told newsmen Tuesday two earlier attempts to slip out of the Tan Canh camp in the central highlands failed after it had been seized by North Vietnamese tanks and infantrymen.

Dobbins and his unit split up into small groups of four and five for the escape attempt. The first try was made at 10 p.m. Monday but they were engaged by the enemy and withdrew. One South Vietnamese soldier was killed. They tried again at midnight but made contact with the enemy and pulled back a second time.

On the first two tries, Dobbins said, there was too much moonlight.

The third escape attempt began at 4 a.m. Tuesday when the moon lowered and ground fog limited the enemy's visibility.

Dobbins, the South Vietnamese regimental commander, an interpreter and an aide moved cautiously through a minefield that had been set for the enemy.

The regimental commander and Dobbins alternated as the "point man," because of the strain and because each was familiar with different parts of the compound.

They received enemy fire several times but did not return it since they did not want to give away their exact positions.

Dobbins was in contact by radio with rescue forces. At 6 a.m. his group and others arrived [at] a pickup point about a mile outside the perimeter of Tan Canh. Two U.S. helicopters lifted Dobbins and 11 Vietnamese to safety.

" 3rd Time's a Charm As Captain Escapes", by Vietnam (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Thursday, April 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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