The Continuing Danger of White Phosphorous Bombs Dropped On Laos During the Vietnam War.

The Continuing Danger of White Phosphorous Bombs Dropped On Laos During the Vietnam War.

Above Photo: Plane drops a white phosphorus bomb on a Viet Cong postion in 1966. (USAF)

Nicknamed ‘Wille Pete” in Vietnam, white phosphorous was mostly used to mark targets, as it created brilliant white smoke that could be seen from a long way off.

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Assault helicopters prep a landing zone (vhpaphoto.org)

Gunners would use white phosphorous shells as an artillery marking round to find the correct range on a target, after which the real high explosive shells would be fired.

White Phosphorous marker rounds FSB Pershing Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers Vietnam war secret war unexploded ordnance white phosphorous salavan province laos

White Phosphorous marker rounds fired from FSB Pershing (Tom Bois, 212warriors.com)

Super Skymaster fires a white phosphorus rocket Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers Vietnam war secret war unexploded ordnance UXO white phosphorous ho chi minh trail laos

A U.S. Air Force Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster fires a white phosphorus rocket (just to the right of the gunsight’s crosshairs) to mark a target for strike aircraft, Vietnam, 1969.

In its original, pre-weaponised state white phosphorous looks like a harmless bar of soap.

White Phosphorous Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers Vietnam war secret war unexploded ordnance UXO white phosphorous ho chi minh trail laos

White Phosphorous (Wikimedia Commons)

During the war the US began mixing white phosphorous with napalm to make the napalm burn more fiercely. The difference was napalm burned skin, but white phosphorous burned to the bone, and couldn’t be washed off.

 OV-10 Bronco BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs jungle ho chi minh trail unexploded ordnance laos wartime relics jungle UXO tri border jungle

An air-to-air right side view of an OV-10 Bronco aircraft firing a white phosphorous smoke rocket to mark a ground target. The aircraft is used by forward air controllers in support of ground troops.

Many non-combatants, enemy and US troops were badly burned by white phosphorous during the war, and it still claims victims in the jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, in the form of UXO, or unexploded ordnance.

UXO features in my novel BACK as one of the dangers modern-day backpackers encounter in the tri-border jungle, as they set off on a poorly-planned expedition to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers Vietnam war secret war unexploded ordnance white phosphorous MIA A Greater Evil film

UXO Salavan in the jungle

This isn’t just fiction. Recently I was out along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Salavan Province, Laos, doing research for the novel. In the jungle we came across a UXO team who said they’d discovered a “phosphorous bomb” and gingerly lifted a sandbag off a hole where they’d stored it, in order to show me.

BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs jungle ho chi minh trail unexploded ordnance laos wartime relics jungle UXO tri border jungle white phosphorous UXO discovered

Didn’t look much like a bomb to me…

I couldn’t make out exactly what the ordnance was (pictured above), but the guy showing me was very apprehensive around it, so the UXO teams must have great experience of the instability and danger of this particular item of unexploded weaponry.

Imagine my surprise, after I’d finished taking some photos, when the guy showing me accidentally dropped the heavy sandbag right down on top of it.

Luckily, it didn’t go off, but the look on his face said it all.

BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs jungle ho chi minh trail unexploded ordnance laos wartime relics jungle UXO tri border jungle white phosphorous

A white phosphorous explosion from a different time: Test firing over the former USS Alabama in 1921

For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War, POWs/MIAs and Adventure Backpackers trekking into the war-ravaged jungles of Asia see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/

And for POWs left behind in Laos:

© Peter Alan Lloyd

BACK Parts 1 and 2:

Reviews: Amazon.co.uk: Customer Reviews 

UK: Amazon.co.uk: BACK Parts 1 and 2 

US: Amazon: Back Parts 1 and 2

Smashwords: Back Parts 1 and 2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.lloyd.94064?fref=ts

Website: www.peteralanlloyd.com

Twitter: @PeterAlanLloyd

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

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1 Comment

  1. kim

    the yanks still use these chemical weapons

    Reply

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