The Ho Chi Minh Trail has always been the stuff of legends, a seemingly endless number of backwater paths and trails. This is where I will be going next!
Laos is the most heavily-bombed country per-capita in the history of the world. Every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years from 1964 until 1973, a planeload of cluster bombs was dropped on Laos by American B-52s.
Up to a third of the bombs dropped did not explode, leaving Laos contaminated with vast quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
The estimated number of cluster bombs that did not detonate is 80 million, most of which are still buried in farmland. Over the past four decades, less than 1% of the bomblets that failed to detonate have been cleared. All 17 provinces in Laos, and 41 of 46 of the poorest districts in Laos, are today burdened with unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination.
Mr. Sorpaseuth’s youngest son, Bounleuy, was interviewed and revealed the accident occurred at around 10:40am on September 21st 2019 in the family’s garden; “my father was using a hoe and spade to dig the roots of a banana tree to re-plant in a different area. While he was digging, his hoe hit an unexploded bombie (BLU26) and shrapnel from the bomb hit his chest and face and he died suddenly. Many things in the garden were also destroyed by the bombie”.
Most devices dropped in Laos were anti-personnel cluster bombs, although the U.S. was never at war with the people of Laos. Nearly seven bombs for every man, woman and child living in Laos. The American people were largely oblivious to the bombing campaign in the country at the time.
Cluster bombs are designed as anti-personnel, anti-armor weapons, but the primary victims have been innocent civilians. More than 98% of known cluster bomb victims are civilians and 40% are children, who are drawn to the small, toy-like metal objects. Boys in particular are at risk. Today.
These bombs were meant to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a network of jungle and mountain paths that served as a logistical supply route for the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail is an elaborate network of mountain and jungle paths and trails built from North Vietnam to South Vietnam through the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia. The purpose was to support the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War.
The name, taken from North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, is of American origin. Within Vietnam, it is called the Ðuong Truong Son, or Truong Son Road, after the mountain range in Central Vietnam.
The trail was put into operation beginning in 1959, after the North Vietnamese decided to reunify South with North Vietnam. The Trail was the major supply route for the North Vietnamese forces that successfully invaded and overran South Vietnam in 1975.
I will be exploring this legendary trail in Laos with the man who knows every back road, trail and path in the country, Donald Duvall aka The Midnight Mapper. The name reflects his extensive work mapping the country. Don has also been advising film crews on the trail, notably Red Bull Media for Blood Road.
See more at: http://bloodroadfilm.com/
Having toured northern Laos with Don earlier, I know this will be one heck of a ride!