Southern Laos – Vietnam War Remains around Attapeu Province in the tri-border Area.

Southern Laos – Vietnam War Remains around Attapeu Province in the tri-border Area.

Above Photo: Russian SAM-7 Missile Site at Pa-Am Village, Attapeu

In 2015, on a BACK-related research trip into southern Laos, I took a guide from Attapeu and went out into the countryside for a few days.

One day we walked for about six hours along hot trails that had formerly comprised the Ho Chi Minh Trail, before it hit the Cambodian border, looking for remote villages where our guide said we’d see some interesting items from the Vietnam War.

A hot walk along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Attapeu

A hot walk along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Attapeu

On these trips we’d often go for hours without seeing any other vehicles, and we saw very few people. We didn’t even see many villages, and in those that we did come across, when small children saw us, they’d scream, burst out crying and run into their houses, or would hide behind older children, and peer out, petrified, waiting until we’d passed.

Here’s one who was only puzzled, not petrified.

Here’s one who was only puzzled, not petrified.

After a long walk we came upon this village:

The main entrance into the village.

The main entrance into the village.

As we walked around, we noticed there were many cluster bomb casings being put to a variety of uses. This one was a herb garden and a clothes drier.

Half a cluster bomb pod

Half a cluster bomb pod

We were then shown two buckets, which were allegedly made from aluminium and copper taken from a downed US jet during the war, although looking at the writing on the first one, the “silver” bucket looks like it was made out of a flare?

 

Aluminium bucket made from a downed Vietnam War plane

Aluminium bucket made from a downed Vietnam War US plane

 

This shows a copper bucket and another aluminium one behind it, both allegedly made from a downed US jet

This shows a copper bucket and another aluminium one behind it, both allegedly made from a US plane that ahd been shot down nearby during the Vietnam War

We were also told of a family who owned a downed US Airman’s Bowie knife, which they showed us, although the handle is a modern construction.

Bowie Knife

Bowie Knife

On another trip, we were taken to see a SAM-7 missile, its electronics removed long ago, still sitting on its launch pad, aimed at the sky,  along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

SAM 7 Missile, Pa-Am, Attapeu

SAM 7 Missile, Pa-Am, Attapeu

After a few days of trekking in baking heat in the Laotian jungle, we decided to relax around Attapeu for a day, and went along to Attapeu’s UXO Laos headquarters to rummage around their metal collection.

UXO Lao Headquarters in Attapeu

UXO Lao Headquarters in Attapeu

I have added some photos below, but in the first one, note in the forgeround the listening device, called a Spikebuoy, built to resemble a dead bush. These were dropped along the Trail to detect movement of vehicles and men. At the time I had only ever seen one in a museum in Vietnam, so I was particularly pleased to find this one in Attapeu.

Spikebuoy in the foreground

Spikebuoy in the foreground

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.

MIA button

See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. 

For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:

© Peter Alan Lloyd

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