What seems like a lifetime ago to some, seems like yesterday to others, as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was famous for a far more terrifying reason.
A brief history
As the 1950s began, the American government sent to Vietnam known then as the French Indochina, military advisors to prevent a communism expansion in south-east Asia, or that’s what was intended.
The ‘Tonkin Gulf incident’ was the biggest escalation that came in 1964. The US Navy destroyer USS Cole was attacked by the Vietnamese navy speed boat, and because of that the US government set up the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which gave the right for the president to send troops to Vietnam.
In the beginning of 1965 the regular US troops were deployed, and Military operation started which involved heavy bombing across the Laotian and Cambodian border. In 1968 the Viet-Cong (the army of Democratic Republic of Vietnam) launched offensive Tet. The offensive Tet failed, which gave the American government a wake-up call that they cannot win this war.
Disillusion about the war
Disillusion about the war led the US officials to make a decision about withdrawing the troops from Vietnam and to start something that was known as the ‘Vietnamization of war’.
The 15th of April 1975 saw the complete withdrawal of American military power from Vietnam.
On the 29th of April of the same year, the Saigon failed and Vietnam was taken over by the communists and their army of Viet-Cong. Estimation showed that the war took the lives of over 3.8 million people, which included 3.1 million Vietnamese, 58,220 US military troops, 300,000 Cambodians and 200,000 Laotians.
There is no way you can come to Vietnam and not see the memories of war that are scattered throughout the country.
Where to visit
The Hanoi-Hilton, the biggest and the most terrifying prison for prisoners of war, is located in Hanoi.
In the museum of war, which is also in Hanoi, you can find all kinds of weapons and memories from the war, including shot down US military planes, equipment and some of the personal belongings found alongside the American soldiers.
Another place worth going to see is the district of Cu Chi and their tunnels. During the war, the most critical things were ammunition and food supply. The American forces had undisputed air superiority, which forced the Vietnamese army to figure out how and where to store all their supplies. That is when they dug up almost 200km of underground tunnels – some of which were large enough to act as hospitals and warehouses. They were quite difficult to destroy, sometimes even impossible. They were protected by boogie traps, which apparently gave the American army lots of casualties. By visiting these tunnels and crawling inside them, you can really get a feel for how difficult life in the tunnels was.
Everyone has his/her own reasons for travelling and seeing the world. Some may be interested in scenery while others are interested in history and how specific countries came about. After reading this article and if you are even mildly interested in history, you will now know how important it is to experience the history of Vietnam whilst visiting this remarkable country.