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.
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.
After a long walk we came upon this 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
BACK Parts 1 and 2:
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