The Vietnam War is made famous by the American s defeat despite great effort. It reveals the weakness in the most modern military power: guerilla warfare. My photos for this week s photo challenge is about what the Liberation Army did to beat the odds against the American military. Hopefully, it reveals a David and Goliath story situated in Indochina. If anything, I hope the reader learns to never underestimate the little guy or gal for that matter.
This is a common bamboo trap situated along Cu Chi. The trap and tunnel system in this area was meant to be deadly to American soldiers but local friendly. They fashioned these sharp points from bamboo. A heavy American soldier would immediately fall into the trap and the tips would be impaled into his body. The first victim would fall and his friends would be open to discovery as it would take three (3) men to extract and carry the victim. It would have been wisest to let the victim bleed to death. The (3) rescuers would have become easy prey for the Liberation soldiers.
The tunnels were made painstakingly since World War II when the Vietnamese fought against their French colonial masters. The tunnels were improved and innovated for the mighty American army. A group of 3 workers made one tunnel and they made it Asian size. They made tunnels and sub-tunnels that would twist and turn in a maze of traps and shelters.
In case the Americans used chemicals and liquids to flood the tunnels, they ensured each tunnel could be totally sealed. This was how the Liberation Army survived the napalm bombs that torched the area. Some of the tunnels were built 10 meters below ground. They were at most 2 feet in width. I completed a 20 meter crawl that was so dark, stifling and tight that I could not take a photo. This exhibit needs to be experienced rather than photographed.
The video above shows the ventilation system for the kitchens that were also below ground. They made Tri-level vents so that the kitchen smoke was released close to the ground and would not alert American radars or soldiers.
At the end of the visit, a classic Liberation army snack is offered to punctuate the trip. This is guaranteed to keep one slim, energetic and tunnel-ready —– boiled tapioca (cassava) served with peanut and cane sugar for taste and some pandan tea. It seems the rice fields were utterly destroyed by American bombs and only root crops could be cultivated. This humble food gave them enough energy to build their tunnels, torture American soldiers and win their Independence.
An old tire can be recycled to make the soldiers sandals for the Liberation Army that would last them a minimum of five (5) years. The shoe was designed to make footprints so the direction of the wearer was untraceable.
I encourage visitors to Vietnam to see the Cuchi tunnels. It is a revealation of how tenacity, intense focus, cooperation and unity of the Vietnamese ousted American military forces Against the Odds.