Category: North Vietnam

Food for thought

Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist as well as a communist. This is well documented and arguably the more abusive communist policies that harmed the Vietnamese people were not something he ever envisioned. Given the violent history of communism, why would he identify communism as the answer for independence for Vietnam?

Well, what did capitalism ever do for his country? It led to exploitation and colonization by the French. 

There is much more to this, of course, but it’s worth thinking about.

Blown bridge in North Vietnam, circa 1972.

Blown bridge in North Vietnam, circa 1972.

From the source: Two 750 pound general purpose bombs are…

From the source:

Two 750 pound general purpose bombs are released from a camoflaughed U.S. Air Force F-4C Phantom fighter bomber on a recent strike against communist targets in North Vietnam. This photograph was taken shortly after the resumption of bombing by U.S. aircraft in North Vietnam. [15 February 1966]

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From the source:  Explosions Cover Bridges North of Hanoi: ;…

From the source

Explosions Cover Bridges North of Hanoi: ; Saigon– Bomb smoke rises from bridges– A maze of bomb smoke covers the Lang Lau railroad bridge, following a F-105 Thunderchief strike on the bridge September 15. The 355th Tactical Fighter Wing pilots destroyed the structure, 36 miles north of Hanoi. Bombs can also be seen impacting on a nearby highway bridge which was heavily damaged.

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Air War – Vietnam by Drew Middleton, pages 209-210. This…

Air War – Vietnam by Drew Middleton, pages 209-210.

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The caption reads: VNA 777, Hanoi, June 22 [1972] – On June 7,…

The caption reads:

VNA 777, Hanoi, June 22 [1972] – On June 7, 9 and 10, U.S. planes flew 52 sorties against Hong Gai town in Quang Ninh coal area, an important economic center of the DRV, releasing 134 demolition and blast bombs (from 225 to 1000 pound categories), 3000 DART bombs and firing a lot of rockets and 20mm shells. 3000 houses were demolished, over 150 people were killed and nearly 250 others injured. Photo: Ha Long street in Hong Gai town completely razed by U.S. bombs. 1602 families are homeless.

Hanoi VNA Radiophoto in English to Tokyo – 0800 GMT – 22 June 1972 – FBIS

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“Our mission was to put our bombs on the target, regardless of Migs or anything else. That was our…”

“Our mission was to put our bombs on the target, regardless of Migs or anything else. That was our prime challenge. If the Migs came out on the way to the target, we picked up another challenge: Put those bombs on the target despite the Migs. Regardless of what else happened, you won if you bombed successfully in spite of the Migs and  you lost if the Migs, or anything else, forced you to get rid of the bombs anyplace other than on target. It took guts and a lot of discipline to keep thundering along with fast, maneuverable adversaries nipping at your tail. But among other things, if you didn’t get the target, you could expect to have to try the same one again tomorrow. Every Thud driver over there would have loved to pickle his bombs and tanks at the first sight of Migs and have at them, but if you did, you lost the game. If you outdiced them all the way down the ridge, creamed your target, and than had at them, you won all the way.”

Going Downtown: The War Against Hanoi and Washington by Jack Broughton, page 153.

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From the source: “Some North Vietnamese antiaircraft guns were…

From the source: “Some North Vietnamese antiaircraft guns were aimed using ‘Fire Can’ radar, like those at this site. Wild Weasels sometimes hunted and destroyed these radars.”

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“One fellow prisoner whom I never forgot was Ngo Viet Xiem, a South Vietnamese police captain and…”

“One fellow prisoner whom I never forgot was Ngo Viet Xiem, a South Vietnamese police captain and brother of the architect Ngo Viet Thu, the Rome laureate who helped build the army academy at Da Lat. Xiem was the chief mechanic of the camp and was appreciated by Major Yet [North Vietnamese police officer, camp commander] and camp personnel because he helped to maintain their motor-bicycles in good condition. The communists had very limited technical knowledge to take care of their newly acquired means of transportation. Knowing that I was a naval engineer, Major Yet assigned me the job of opening shops to make necessary equipment for the camp. We prisoners did all kinds of things, from clothes alterations to ironworking. We even produced coke from coal and other materials that became a source of profit for the camp. The Republic of Vietnam Army’s former officers were capable of many things. We even used spare electrical parts and small electric generators to build a modest power station. We generated enough electricity to light about fifty 100-watt bulbs and to power a loud speaker for Major Yet to address the prisoners or make public announcements. He was delighted with this new luxury.”

Tran Van Son, speaking of his time at Dong Gang concentration camp in 1975. Excerpt from Voices from the Second Republic of South Vietnam (1967–1975) edited by KW Taylor.

Veteran of the Navy of the Republic of Vietnam, Tran served as a representative of Nha Trang in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly. After the North Vietnamese victory in 1975, he was sent to a concentration camp. He escaped in 1977 and made it to California where he settled and established a family. He wrote many political essays which can be read online.

Let’s Talk Books (8/?)

Fictional tales of war are as helpful, and perhaps as necessary, as well researched histories for understanding and coping with that traumatic experience. As usual, the American experience dominates in the fictional works exploring the trauma of the Vietnam War. Yet the experiences of the North Vietnamese and others who identified with the Communist cause must also be heard.

  • Paradise of the Blind: A Novel by Duong Thu Huong – Originally published in 1988, this book was banned shortly after its publication. Rather than have her good standing within the Communist Party help in her quest to author stories that would build a better Vietnam, Duong Thu Huong was chastised by Party members. This novel deals significantly with the effects of land reforms, as well as gender roles.
  • Novel Without a Name by Duong Thu Huong – Again, Duong Thu Huong challenged the Party in Vietnam and paid the price. She was expelled from the party after sending the manuscript of this book to France. She then served jail time, and the novel was banned in Vietnam. The novel deals largely with the psychological effects of war and the loss of innocence. 
  • The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam by Bao Ninh – A former North Vietnamese soldier himself, Ninh explores his 10 year experience of war through his protagonist Kien. The novel shatters the government’s rhetoric of patriotic soldiers who fought nobly and returned to a hero’s welcome, triumphant and healthy. Like Duong Thu Huong’s novels, it was not well received by officials in Vietnam, though Ninh himself seems to have faced less harsh consequences.