QUANG TRI, Vietnam (Reuters) – Two petite women in protective gear walk slowly down an empty field in Vietnam, carrying a large metal detector that clicks and whirrs, searching for unexploded ordnance.
Medic and safety officer Nguyen Thi Ha Lan supervises her teammates, the “landmine girls” as they are known, preparing to detonate a cluster bomb left behind from the war with the United States that ended in 1975.
It is one of many underneath the soil in Quang Tri province, north-central Vietnam.
On March 26th the governments of the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace, hosted a landmark event examining the transformation from enemies to partners by the two countries since the end of the war in 1975.
From 1962 to 1971, the American military sprayed vast areas of Vietnam with Agent Orange, leaving dioxin contamination that has severely affected the health of three generations of Vietnamese. Now, the U.S. and Vietnamese governments have joined together in a massive cleanup project.
In the thriving industrial city of Bien Hoa, about 20 miles east of Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, there is a large air base, just beyond a sweeping bend in the Dong Nai River. During the American war in Vietnam, it was said to be the busiest airport in the world. Since the war ended in 1975, a dense cluster of four residential neighborhoods has grown up around the base. Their total population is perhaps 111,000, while the base itself, now home to advanced long-range fighter-bombers of the Vietnam People’s Air Force, has another 1,200 permanent residents. Tiếp tục đọc “Fifty Years After, A Daunting Cleanup of Vietnam’s Toxic Legacy”→
On a mild, sunny morning last November, Chuck Searcy and I drove out along a spur of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail to the former Marine base at Khe Sanh, which sits in a bowl of green mountains and coffee plantations in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province, hard on the border with Laos. The seventy-seven-day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968, coinciding with the Tet Offensive, was the longest battle of what Vietnamese call the American War and a pivotal event in the conflict. By the off-kilter logic of Saigon and Washington, unleashing enough technology and firepower to produce a ten-to-one kill ratio was a metric of success, but the televised carnage of 1968, in which 16,592 Americans died, was too much for audiences back home. After Tet and Khe Sanh, the war was no longer America’s to win, only to avoid losing. Tiếp tục đọc “The Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War”→
Hải Lăng, Quảng Trị (9/5/2019) – Bốn nhà lãnh đạo của cộng đồng quốc tế ở Việt Nam, các nữ đại sứ của Thụy Sĩ, Na Uy, Canada, và New Zealand (được biết đến là Nhóm G4) tại Việt Nam, hôm thứ Năm đến Quảng Trị để xem một đội rà phá hiện trường toàn nữ làm việc.
At age 30, Nguyen Thi Thuy has started in a job that everyone in Vietnam believed that only men could do. This mother of one daughter now leads an all-female clearance team of 16 members for clearing cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war contaminated land in Quang Tri Province.
The youngest from a family of eight children in Gio Chau Commune, Gio Linh District, Nguyen Thi Thuy has been working with the Survey and Clearance Program of Project RENEW and Norwegian People’s Aid (RENEW-NPA) in Quang Tri Province since 2013.
Vietnamese women at a wet market in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Valentina Aru
An ‘other’ reflects on the ways in which he and many others feel they belong, why Vietnam is home.
I have spent over 40 percent of my adult life outside of my home country, never content with having my soul controlled by geography, to paraphrase George Santayana. I carry a U.S. passport but it doesn’t define me. I am a U.S. ex-patriot and global citizen who calls Vietnam home.
It was during my first visit to Hanoi 23 years ago this month that this country – with its tragic yet inspirational millennia-long history – cast its spell on me. After moving here in 2005, I joined a select group of expats – an estimated 100,000 of them, according to official sources – who live in the midst of 97 million Vietnamese.
TAIPEI — Vietnam is demanding compensation from manufacturers of Agent Orange in what experts describe as a last resort for helping citizens who still fall sick or face disabilities linked to the defoliant the United States used during war in the country five decades ago.
Former Senator Bob Kerrey thought he could help heal the wounds of war. Instead, he reopened them.
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — On May 25, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry took the stage at the luxury Rex Hotel in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Earlier on their trip together, President Barack Obama had announced a major development in a project Kerry had championed: The Vietnamese government had granted a license for Fulbright University Vietnam, the country’s first independent, private and nonprofit liberal arts university. About $40 million from the U.S. government would go toward the project, along with 25 hectares of rent-free land donated by the Ho Chi Minh City government. On this day, the two countries would officially mark the milestone. Tiếp tục đọc “How a U.S.-Backed University in Vietnam Unleashed Old Demons”→
Decades after the war with America ended, Vietnamese families continue to search for the remains of their kin who are still missing in action.
By Joseph Babcock (Mr. Babcock, a teacher of writing, is working on a book about contemporary Vietnam)
A war veteran places incense on graves in Hanoi on the national Day for Martyrs and Wounded Soldiers. Credit Hoang Dinh Nam / Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
On July 27, the day a collection of remains believed to be those of American soldiers lost in the Korean War were flown out of North Korea, I was driving from Hanoi to Vietnam’s rural northern province of Yen Bai. My host that morning was Ngo Thuy Hang, the 42-year-old vice director of Marin, a local nonprofit devoted to helping Vietnamese families locate the remains of their loved ones. Tiếp tục đọc “Vietnam’s Sad Hunt: 300,000 Missing Souls”→
Chuck Searcy: This report is from my colleague Ngo Xuan Hien at Project RENEW, describing another finding of a big bomb in Quang Tri Province which was safely removed to the demolition site and destroyed. The bomb is bigger than most ordnance cleaned up and destroyed every day — usually cluster bombs, grenades, artillery rounds, mortars — but now even these infrequent occurrences of 500-pound or 750-pound bombs are treated somewhat routinely. That is to say, local people are no longer alarmed, once they report the finding they are confident that NPA-RENEW technicians or other NGO teams coordinated by the Provincial Legacy of War Coordination Center will come quickly to the site and handle the threat skillfully and professionally, and residents can soon return to their normal activities. The situation is being managed, and that is the key to long-term safety and protection of villagers, farmers, school children.
Hai Lang District, Quang Tri (28 November 2018) — Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams managed by NPA-Project RENEW on Wednesday safely destroyed a 750-pound U.S. aircraft bomb at their Central Demolition Site in Hai Que Commune. It was identified an air-dropped general purpose bomb, M117 series, that was extensively used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War. Read more here.
Hien Xuan Ngo
Communications & Development Manager
Disarmed bombs in Xépôn, Laos. Picture: Halo Trust
Thanksgiving is an American tradition that is unknown in most of the world. Fifty years ago, however, it landed in Laos, the small, impoverished Southeast Asian nation that was to become perhaps the longest-suffering casualty of the United States’ war in Vietnam.
Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November. In 1968, that fell on November 28, and on that day, at the height of the war and on the orders of president Lyndon B. Johnson, turkey dinners were helicoptered in to American soldiers who were on a mission to sever the Ho Chi Minh Trail – the network of paths and tracks that constituted North Vietnam’s military supply lines to the south of the country – that ran through eastern Laos.