Legend of the Ho Chi Minh Trail - 2012
Also called the Truong Son Trail, it's official name given to it by North Vietnam.
This story is taken from a website (http://www.laosgpsmap.com/ho-chi-minh-trail-laos/) with the author's permission. It is a fascinating account of one man's quest to preserve some history. Don asked me if I would provide a link to his site while providing some background information. Thank you to Don Duvall for using a few of his photos and a bit of his website - Sarge (December 7, 2012)
Don on the Russian missile on the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Don Duvall, a bike and trail obsessive. Don, dubbed the Midnight Mapper, has lived in Laos for 10 years and dedicated his life to mapping every single square inch of the Ho Chi Minh trail by GPS from the back of his trusty Honda XR400. With a proclivity for frequent peals of laughter, Duvall's cartographic retentiveness knows no bounds, and to date he has mapped more than 50,000 GPS points in Laos......
The Ho Chi Minh Trail is arguably one of the greatest feats of military engineering in history, a Goliath of ingenuity and bloody determination. At its peak this 20,000km transport network spread like a spider's web through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, an indestructible labyrinth through which the North Vietnamese fed the war in the South. Without the trail, there could have been no war, a fact the Americans knew only too well. In a sustained eight-year campaign to destroy it they flew 580,000 bombing missions, dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on neutral Laos, denuded the jungle with chemicals, and seeded clouds to induce rain and floods.
Abandoned American tank at Ban Dong Laos - Ho Chi Minh trail
At one point Nixon even mooted the notion of deploying nuclear weapons. Amazingly, considering its importance, there are very few people today who know of the whereabouts of the remaining sections of trail. Backpackers might ride a sanitized, tourist version of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam, but only a smattering of devotees make it as far as the real trail in Laos. Much of the vast network of roads and tracks has simply been lost forever to the jungle and most sections that do remain are heavily contaminated by unexploded ordnance (UXO). Even today, almost 40 years after the last bomb was dropped, UXO is a deadly legacy of the war and still kills around 200 people a year.
Laos GPS Map Website
Laos GPS Map is a website and blog that details the ONGOING (as of December, 2012) travels of Don Duvall while he seeks out the remains and locations of the Ho Chi Minh Trail as it existed during the Vietnam War. Don will also take you on a tour of the trail if you desire. His blog has dozens of photos, many eye dropping, that shows him on his adventure with his trail bike, as he meets the local villagers and seeks information about the old trail.
Map showing Khe Sanh and LZ's near the 17th Parallel
The Red Princes bridge, a vital part of the Ho Chi Minh trail destroyed by US bombing in 1967.
Untouched since the war, a section of the Ho Chi Minh trail looking South towards Attepue.
S-75 Dvina Sam missile used to knock out B 52's - Attepue
Since its first deployment in 1957 it has become the most widely-deployed air defense missile in history.
The SA-2 missile had a solid fuel booster rocket that launched and accelerated it, then dropped off after about six seconds. While in boost stage, the missile did not guide. During the second stage, the SA-2 guided, and a liquid-fuel rocket propelled it to the target.
Range: Minimum 5 miles; maximum effective range about 19 miles; maximum slant range 27 miles
Ceiling: Up to 60,000 ft.
Warhead: 288-lb. blast-fragmentation
Speed: Mach 3.5
Weight: 4,850 lbs
Don's trusty bike he uses to explore the trail.
This website is well worth taking the time to explore and read all that Don Duvall has been able to document and photograph during his quest to map the old Ho Chi Minh Trail. - Sarge