When we first arrived in Sisophon, we carried our weapons everywhere, but then we'd been there about a month, and it dawned on us that we didn't really need to be carrying our weapons because we were not there for offensive ops. It's not our job. Our job is to get signals through.
The troop leader and I came to a kind of agreement that, well, we could lock our weapons away, so we did. We stopped carrying rifles and we lived like that then for the next few months, which was positive, really positive with the locals. The locals got to know us as the guys that don't carry guns. Everyone else was still carrying guns. We suddenly put ours away, that worked really well up until the election cycle started. Once the election cycle started, then CPP was pushing back against everyone, the Khmer Rouge were getting edgy and starting to do a little bit of fighting.
Then we had to pick up our guns again and carry them, which set the locals off because now we're carrying guns. They started to believe the rumours that the Khmer Rouge were putting out that they were going to come back and take over the place again, which was just rubbish. They didn't have the strength. They didn't have the units. They'd never be able to take over anything. You could see the locals faces when we started carrying our rifles again, that they were, "Maybe we shouldn't be here."