Da Nang and Dai Loc Region

June 27, 2010 - Da Nâng, Vietnam

 

We started our morning at the Sandy Beach complimentary breakfast buffet. It was incredible! There was a wide variety of food including local favorites and continental fare.  After breakfast we walked down to the beach for a look around.

We hired a driver for the day, who was supposedly familiar with the area, to take us out to the Dai Loc region where David served in 1967 and 1968 while he was a Marine in the Vietnam War. We had a tough time locating the sites nonetheless because in 42 years the changes have been remarkable. He was looking for some specific locations: where the 7th Marine Regiment was headquartered on Hill 55; where the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment was headquartered on Hill 37; the villages at the south and east of Hill 55, which were Viet Cong strongholds during the war; and what the Marines referred to as “Dodge City,” an area southeast of Hill 55 that received the nickname over the fact that every time the Marines went into the area they got into a gunfight.

Hill 55 has been described as "the most notorious area in I Corps," which was the northernmost of the American military zones. In the Indochina War, two battalions of French forces were wiped out on Hill 55. The hill was named by its height-it is 55 meters high. Today Hill 55 is a tree farm, part of a reforestation project in the I Corps area, which was the military zone that was the most heavily sprayed with the toxic defoliate, Agent Orange, during the war.

We saw three war memorials on Hill 55 today: one hailing the Viet Cong victories over the French, another in a Viet Cong cemetery, and the other across the road from the cemetery – a pagoda-like structure that lists lots of names, apparently those of communist soldiers who died fighting – given the dates of their deaths – the Japanese, French or Americans.

The homes in those Viet Cong villages are stucco today, instead of the bamboo walls, grass roofs and dirt floors of 67-68. On our journey today, we saw the red flag with gold star of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam only on government buildings – until we reached those villages at Hill 55. Each home displayed the communist flag. David disagrees, of course, with their politics, but admired their pride in their contribution to the “revolution.”

Hill 37, which had an old, cement French fort at the top when the Marines were there, is today occupied by a cement factory and inaccessible to visiting servicemen.

“Dodge City” was a deemed a free-fire zone by the Americans during the Vietnam War, meaning that anyone in the area could be fired on immediately – a shoot first/ask questions later policy. Villages emptied and the area became a Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army (VA/NVA) stronghold. The inactive rice paddies were taken over by 7-foot-tall elephant grass, which hid the VC and NVA well. David’s 3rd Platoon of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion/7th Marine Regiment spent the 1968 Tet Offensive in Dodge City, searching for NVA/VA rocket teams that were hitting the Danang air base, but saw no action. A month after he left Vietnam, the company’s 2nd Platoon was ambushed in Dodge City, suffering 21 dead. A hospital corpsman from the New Bedford, Massachusetts area received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions that day. Today, the villages and rice paddies have returned to Dodge City.

 


Pictures

People
Chilis drying in the sun
Farm hand
Another crop drying in the sun
 
 

1 Comment

Heather:
June 30, 2010
What an experiance !
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