Cu Chi Tunnels

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During the Vietnam War, Cu Chi Tunnels were home to thousands of Vietnamese people.  Originally built under the French colonial period, the Tunnels were enlarged during the battle against the Americans and its allies.

 

Linked village to village and situated right under the American bases, the secret Tunnels both strengthened Viet Cong guerillas forces and were the center of the village at that time. The Tunnels were only from 0.5 to 1 m wide, just enough for a person to walk along by bending or dragging, but it could be seen another world under the ground with enough facilities.

 

 

The Tunnels included first aid posts, storage rooms for weapons and food, kitchens, dorms and even classrooms and small theatres. Many couples got married and had children under the ground. The most interesting and magic thing of the Tunnels is that that they were dug by hand with simple technique of trap doors and smoke vents.

 

The Cu Chi Tunnels played such a very important role to the Vietnamese victory over the American and the South Vietnamese Army as they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area surrounding Saigon. At the height of the Tunnels, some parts of the tunnel system have a very deep level underground, stretched over 220 km from Ho Chi Minh to the Vietnam-Cambodia border.

 

Cu Chi district was one of the most pro-communist districts in Southern Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, Cu Chi was described as a free fire zone and was seriously bombarded. In the region, tourists can still see numerous bomb craters caused by 500 pounds of B52 bombs. Nowadays, the Tunnels have been modified to serve tourists. Two sections of the significant Tunnels which are more enlarged and improved are opened to tourists. The first is near Ben Dinh Village and the second is 15 km from Ben Duoc.

 

The America and Australian army tried many ways to destroy the area surrounding Cu Chi, and that time, Cu Chi was known as the Iron Triangle. They carried out large-scale ground operations involving hundreds of thousands of troops but cannot find out the Tunnels.

 

When the enemy began using German shepherd dogs which were trained to use their sense of smell ability to find out trapdoors and guerrillas, the Viet Cong used American soap which made these dogs unable to do the task due to the friendly smell. Especially, the dogs could not spot booby traps. As a result, a lot of dogs were killed and their horrified handlers then refused to put them into the Tunnels.

 

Finally, in the late 1960s, B-52 bomb of the America bombarded in the whole area and destroyed most of the Tunnels. The gesture was militarily useless then because the America was already on its way out of the war. The Tunnels had served their purpose.

 

The Viet Cong guerrillas alive in the Tunnels had to live in such difficult conditions and suffered from horrible casualties. Only about 6,000 of the total 16, 000 people who were in the Tunnels survived after the war. Thousands of locals in the region were killed. Their tenaciousness was extraordinary under the bombing, the pressures of living under the ground for several months and the deaths of countless friends and comrades.

 

Cu Chi Village has been offered a lot of honorific awards, decorations and citations by the government. Since 1975 new hamlets were established and the population of the area increased more and more; however, chemical defoliants still remained in soil and water, and farmland are still poor.

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