Rach Kien had a special place in the story of the Vietnam War, one which most of us did not know about while we were there.  When it was first occupied by the 25th ID, it had long been a Viet Cong stronghold, administered and populated by Viet Cong partisans.  Because of this history, it was thought by US planners to be the perfect place to be turned into a model village to exemplify what life under the Saigon government and its American protectors could be like, and the Viet Cong would turn in their AK's and rush to become part of this paradise.  If life were only so simple.  Reality soon set in. The Viet Cong remained within mortar range at night and elusive during the day and the plan was soon abandoned.  The 9th ID had its hands full in the endless Search and Destroy (not build) operation.  A few painted desks and walls in the schoolhouse (later the 9th ID kitchen) were the sparse signs of this futile attempt.  The New Yorker magazine and Life Magazine ran stories on Rach Kien. It drew the attention of such esteemed visitors as the author, John Steinbeck (working for AFVN radio), who in his book “John Steinbeck in Vietnam:Dispatches from the War” painted a positive picture of what was going on in Rach Kien.The columnist Mary McCarthy came from the other side in her book “Vietnam”.  She saw Rach Kien several weeks after Steinbeck and saw that those early, optimistic efforts had been abandoned. The reporter Peter Arnett in his book “Live from the Battlefield describes his visit to Rach Kien and details the brutal “pacification” of the area by South Vietnamese troops in concert with American units.  There he runs into Daniel Ellsberg on patrol with units of the 25th Infantry.  He was working as a strategist for the Defense Department and wanted to get a real look at what was going on.  Ellsberg’s experience in Rach Kien was instrumental in the formation of his opinion that Vietnam was a mistake. He later became a household word after revealing the "Pentagon Papers", the secret documents detailing the disastrous history of the US involvement in Vietnam. Gerhard Grieb