left overs of war: The Demilitarized Zone, VietNam

by Gregoryg November. 29, 2008 1025 views


Stopping at a mechanic quickly before leaving the area, this pleasant man approaches with grandchildren in tow.
He greets us with a smile and asks where we were from.
Turns out, he a solder with the Republic of Vietnam along side US solders in DaNang during the war. He invited us to his home for lunch and told us stories of his days past. Sweet man indeed-

on to Khe Sanh
home for one of the most infamous battlegrounds for VietNam

Now you find a museum dedicated to the battle and those lost

Examples of actual artillery used on display

The caption is worth zooming in on-

A man loitering outside with an open box in hand signals me over
He wants me to buy a souvenir
I'm not sure if these dog tags and metals are authentic, but they're surely more disturbing now than before on the streets Hue

a gutted US tank oxidizing with time

this heli looks as though it could be started with a fresh oil change

scraps left from a US plane shot down

ground turret

bomb shrapnel lays cluttered and pushed aside

Much more real than I ever imagined.
I leave feeling especially somber.

Even knowing that I can't make it back into town by sun down,
I decide to continue on my DMZ tour
Here I follow the coast on my way to the Vinh Moc tunnels
The point you see in the distance is where you'd find three hidden entrances to the tunnel

a small fee for entrance and guide, I enter the damp dark tunnels

watch your step for narrow shafts leading to lower levels

4 feet high, 3 feet wide
3 levels equaling about 2 km
60 tunnels, 150 “rooms”

about 60 families lived in the tunnels for upwards of five years
here is an example of a “family room”

It's said that 17 children were born in the tunnels…
Here is a picture of one of those kids
and my introduction to the guide who lead me…

over 40 years later

with running water from a seeping stream,
here's the kitchen on first level

the way to a back door

a view of the East Sea

The “residents” were allowed to leave the tunnel to tend to crops, fish, and restore any other necessary supplies

Two points of evidence from the only bomb that ever made a direct hit on the tunnels:
the shell, and beneath cover, a hole which was left as is for ventilation

A sobering day all in all as I leave.
The hour and a half ride back started at dusk and ended up being the second closest call to death I experienced in this trip. While blinded by headlights, a large truck came into my lane around a corner. Swerving and skidding to the roads shoulder, I needed a few minutes to collect myself before moving on.

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