How To Blow Yourself Up with Vietnam-War Cluster Bombs in Laos
BLU-3 Cluster Bomb being “defused”
The above is a BLU-3 cluster bomblet, one of the many millions of bomblets dropped by the US over Laos during the secret war from 1964 – 1973, along with two million tonnes of other ordnance. They are responsible for many maimings and deaths in Laos, both accidental, when people pick them up or strike them with hoes when they are farming, or deliberately, when someone tries to defuse them for scrap metal or to recover the explosives.
Nicknamed ‘the Pineapple’, you can actually see a clip of them falling from a plane in this short (30 second) clip on Youtube:
The Pineapple makes an appearance in my novel BACK, when I recount a real-life incident that happened during a recent research trip into Laos, along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, when I entered a small, indigenous village in the jungle.
I could hear banging and went to investigate.
Around a corner, sitting amongst a pile of war debris, I discovered an old man with a chisel and a hammer, beating the shit out of the above cluster bomb, as he tried to take the metal fins off it. He stopped, smiled at me and then went back to work.
Given these cluster bombs contain hundreds of deadly steel balls, propelled at high velocity by plastic explosives, and that forty years of lying around in the jungle would have done nothing beneficial for its stability, I grabbed his arm, asked could I take the above photo, then got the hell out of there as he continued his banging.
In the end it was just another bizarre encounter as I did my research for BACK, but recalling the incident makes the point that travelling through the war-torn jungles of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, can be a risky proposition even today, as the characters in BACK soon discover for themselves as they head towards the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the modern-day tri-border area of Laos.
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.
And for POWs left behind in Laos:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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