"Helicopter 'Rainstorm' Destroys VC Tunnels" BIEN HOA, (173rd ABN-IO) The river bank was a beehive of Viet Cong tunnels. For every two hundred meters, the seven foot high bank was honeycombed with a myriad of circular openings just above water level, penetrating deep into the earth. This underground community had been abandoned for some time but now Charlie was moving back in. A small force was making a new base for their operations in the area, a sector of Long Khanh province. The VC had been rebuilding the tunnels, and stocking food and supplies. They were confident that no one knew their location, but they were soon to find out differently. While they were still in the midst of preparing, paratroopers of C Co. 4th Bn, 503rd Infantry of the 173 Airborne Brigade were closing in on them. Companies A, C, and D of the 4th Battalion were sent out to locate Charlie's hideout. The three units were helilifted in, each being given a separate area of operation. Company C, commanded by Capt. Jack K. Tarr, landed closest to the Viet Cong position. The VC must have been shocked when suddenly, without any warning, dozens of helicopters dropped from the sky and discharged their loads of troopers almost on top of them. Believing the soldiers knew exactly where they were, the VC began to fire. This was a mistake, for the men of C Company had no idea that they were so close to their objective. When Charlie opened fire he couldn't have pinpointed his location any better. After all of the company had landed, Captain Tarr organized platoon sized patrols to move into the sector from where the sniper fire had come. Advancing slowly through a field of tall elephant grass, the men came upon a stream which had been swollen by monsoon rains to the size of a small river. Carved into the opposite bank, just above water level, was a small tunnel which showed signs of recent habitation. Slowly, the men climbed down into the swift flowing waters and made their way across the stream to investigate the underground passageway. Inside the tunnel, they discovered bags of clothing and a pair of Ho Chi Minh sandals. Further downstream they found another tunnel opening and then another. The further they went, the more tunnels they found until the bank of the river resembled a gigantic beehive. Inside the tunnels, they discovered supplies of food, clothing, medicine, and other equipment. In fact, they found everything but Charlie himself. As soon as the men of the 173rd had landed, the Viet Cong decided that it was time to move out. They left so hastily that they only took their weapons with them, leaving everything else behind, including their families. As the paratroopers checked the remaining tunnels, they found a small group of very frightened women and children. It turned out that Charlie was in such a hurry to leave that he didn't want to be burdened with his family. Among the personal belongings of the men who had fled, Captain Tarr discovered identification cards and many personal papers and documents. The tunnels yielded a good deal of food and supplies. In them the troopers found sacks of rice and peanuts, baskets of corn, and bags of wild fruit. They also found pots and pans, clothing, knives, tools and medicine. The women and children that had been discovered, were sent back to the 173rd's field headquarters, where they were released to a nearby refugee camp. The supplies discovered in the tunnels were destroyed and the captured documents sent back to be analyzed. Finally a team of combat engineers blew up the tunnels with demolition explosives.