The Sekong River in Attapeu – How it was part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Above Photo: Sunset over the Sekong River in Attapeu, Laos.
As well as a beautiful place to watch the sun go down, the Sekong River in Attapeu, Laos, always makes me think of the Vietnam War, because what is now a tranquil river running through beautiful Laotian landscape was once a much-bombed part of the North Vietnamese Army’s supply route called the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
During the war the river was used by the North Vietnamese to float supplies, especially tens of thousands of oil drums, downstream.
During the war, US Intelligence was surprised to learn that steel drums were being half-filled with fuel and launched into the Sekong river in Vietnam, where they’d float hundreds of miles down into southern Laos, where they were desperately needed.
In the village of Attapeu, conveniently located near the many vehicle routes of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the drums would be fished out of the river by nets and booms, then transported to fuel stations hidden along the Trail which ran through nearby jungle.
These fuel drums would then be kept safe from American bombing, deep in caves, and used for supply trucks which had made it that far without being destroyed from the air by US planes.
Attapeu, and the whole tri-border area, was important during the Vietnam War because many of the Ho Chi Minh Trail’s supply routes passed through it, some splitting off into south Vietnam and many carrying on further south, through Cambodia, with vital supplies of food, weapons, ammunition and soldiers, to subsequently threaten Saigon.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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