Dogpatch was an enigma for the working Marine. Here was a village, easily a potential hiding place for Viet Cong observers and snipers, situated just a few yards beyond our fences. In the event of an attack, the VC would have a distinct advantage using Dogpatch as a mustering area for troops and firing positions for their soldiers and snipers. We had no effective field of fire on two sides of the compound. On the occasion of one practice alert, the headshed (ranking officers) told us we would have to hold out for four hours -- the time needed to muster and deploy air support and reinforcements from the fleet. With the lack of anything heavier than a few 81mm mortars, defending against an all-out attack for four hours would have been tenuous at best. A Marine rifle platoon in defense is an awesome sight to behold. Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia would give a live-fire demonstration of a Marine platoon laying down a field of defensive fire called the “wall of steel.” After witnessing this demonstration of firepower, one wondered how anyone assaulting a Marine position could survive. Crucial to the success of defending such a position is the establishment of a clear field of fire. A field of fire is the area around a defensive position that can be easily and effectively reached by gunfire. The M-14 rifle and the M-60 machine gun had an effective range of about 800 yards. Therefore, a field of fire of at least 800 yards would greatly increase the chances for a successful defense. At Danang, the field of fire on two perimeters of the mainside compound was less than 50 yards. Seeing the whites of your attackers’ eyes before you could fire was an unnerving image for any rifleman. The scuttlebutt was that in the event of an attack, the first order of the day would be to level Dogpatch. I do not know if this was ever a real part of command’s plan. A rapid attack from such close quarters would likely have made such an action mute. Dogpatch remained an enigma until 1969 when massive explosions from a nearby ammo dump, ignited by a grass fire, reportedly leveled the village. It was never rebuilt.
Dogpatch was a literal stone’s throw from our front door. Between the village and us was Highway 1, the main north-south transportation corridor for South Vietnam.
Railroad tracks, busy with passenger and freight trains, ran through Dogpatch. Kids were always playing on the tracks and villagers had to constantly cross the track in their daily routines. Seeing one of the passengers trains passing through was an unforgettable sight. People, unable to find seating or standing room in the train, were precariously perched on the roofs of the cars as well as hanging from every ladder and handhold. It was said that more people were killed each day by the trains than by the Viet Cong.
Grass thatched huts with mat walls and dirt floors were the homes of some Dogpatch residents. Seven was old enough to babysit you baby brother -- all day.
Waiting for the train.
Back from the market.
Local residents. Were any of them Communist sympathizers, VC spies, or snipers? Who could tell? Today, Marines and soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq face the same dilemma.
Playing on the tracks.
Dogpatch
The ramshackle village at Danang, actually called Phouc Tuong, was dubbed Dogpatch by American military personnel as reference to a fictional place created by Al Capp in his comic strip, Ll’l Abner. Dogpatch was the home of hillbilly mountain folk of Appalachia. Li’l Abner was created in 1934 and ran as a syndicated comic strip until 1977. Some of the strip’s memorable characters were: Li’l Abner, Dogpatch’s most eligible bachelor - strong as an ox and just as dumb; his sweetheart, Daisy Mae, a voluptuous and virtuous beauty; Mammy and Pappy Yokum, Sadie Hawkins, and Fearless Fosdick. The most un-usual “animals” in Dogpatch were the Shmoos. A Shmoo could be your pet, your dinner, or your football. You could not hurt Shmoos and they always loved you. The infamous moonshine was Kickapoo Joy Juice. A potent brew made by Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe. Daisy Mae was one of a bevy of beauties in Dodpatch. Al Capp also penned Moonbeam McSwine, Wolf Gal, and Stupefyin’ Jones. 
Honest Abe
Li’l Abner
Pappy Yokum
Mammy Yokum
Daisy Mae
Tiny Yokum
Shmoos
If you would like to learn more about the original Dogpatch and its characters log on to: www.lil-abner.com
Capp Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
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Bordering Danang mainside on two perimeters was the ramshackle village we called Dogpatch.