We took an early morning flight to Qui Nhon. Despite delays at the airport, the 1-hour flight was mostly pleasant. Upon our arrival, we were met by our new tour guide “Tom”. He proceeded to take us directly to the Bong Son area, where we explored the former Area of Operations of the 1st Cavalry and 173rd Brigade in Binh Dihn Province, stopping at Landing Zone English, LZE.
This was the first stop of that included a site were Professor Fred Bergerson had been at during the war. According to him the area had changed dramatically. It is now primarily a rice field.
In this video, Fred discusses the role of the Air Cavalry Division in the war.
While at LZE, we had the opportunity to talk to some of the women who work in the rice fields. They were very curious about us. In particular, they were fascinated by the skin tone of the women in our group. It was a friendly visit. At the same time, what we saw here follows a theme I’ve observed — that is, in different circumstances the people of Vietnam have adapted things left over from the War for their use. At the Cu Chi Tunnel complex, for example, we were shown how the soldiers used the things left behind by the US military for their purposes, anything from old tires for shoes, to bomb remnants used as tools and weapons. Currently, this old landing strip is now a rice field. Nothing is wasted in Vietnam and the US in a way continues to have an impact on the country.
Bob Beard, a Vietnam Vet and member of our group, shared a story with the group about a similar group of women he encountered during the war.
After lunch and checking into our second hotel of the trip – a very nice spot near the ocean – we continued our tour. We headed south toward An Khe, the site of Camp Radcliff and Hon Kon Mountain, the former base camp of the 1st Air Cavalry Diving, the unit in which Fred served as a captain of the military intelligence.
We were not sure if we would be allowed to stop at Camp Radcliff, but Fred’s determination to visit his old station won out and we made it onto the site. This was a more emotional stop – bringing back memories of time served in Vietnam.
This was an exhausting day for the group – a lot of time spent on the bus – but it also gave the group the first opportunity to see the countryside of Vietnam. As we drove to through the area we explored both the history of Vietnam and its current situation.
One of the most memorable sites for me were the sheets of rice that were being