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chopped off in a battle, shall join

together at the latter day and cry all,

"We died at such a place''; some

swearing, some crying for a surgeon,

some upon their wives left poor behind

them, some upon the debts they owe, some

upon their children rawly left. I am

afeard there are few the well that die

in a battle; for how can they charitably

dispose of anything, when blood is

their argument? Now, if these men do not

die well, it will be a black matter for

the king that led them to it. . .

— Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Sc. 1

* * *

The 302D Division,

North Vietnamese Army

There are 7,000 of them. Burly peasants, mostly from the Red River region of North Vietnam. They're leavened with 500 old soldiers—battle-experienced ex-Viet Minh noncoms and officers.

Many of them are volunteers. Even in 1967, the Army of the Democratic Government of North Vietnam can offer a better life than the drudgery of farming. Some are reluctant volunteers, rootless, uneducated and unconnected young men of cities like Hung Yen or Hanoi. But they are all part of a division with proud traditions:

Formed in 1947, the division fought at Cao Bang, Lang Son, and, seven years later, the 302nd was one of the first regular units committed to that hell in a very small place of Dien Bien Phu. Vo Nguyen Giap personally chose them to lead the first assault waves there against the outpost Beatrice, whose fall sounded the first tocsin of French defeat.

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