The tunnel rats were American and Australian infantry soldiers whose task was to carry out underground search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong guerrillas had built a complex system of tunnels in which they hid themselves and their weapons when their were under attacks. They were extremely dangerous, with numerous booby traps and enemies lying in wait.
When one of these tunnels were discovered, tunnel rats were sent in to kill any hiding enemy soldiers and to plant explosives to destroy the tunnels. Equipped with only a standard issue .45 caliber pistol and a flashlight, tunnel rats were usually short o small men in order to fit in the narrow tunnels. It has been claimed by Mangold and Penycate that the tunnel rats were almost exclusively phlegmatic and collected White or Hispanic soldiers with steel nerves. The successful application of tunnel rats took place in January 1966 during Operation Crimp, a combined US-Australian action against the Cu Chi tunnels in Binh Duong Province.
Tunnel Rats in Vietnam