up close to the boundary that separated the North from the South is
a small knoll surrounded by flat, open land. This place was known as
Con Thien. During the war, it was one of our northern-most
firebases. A place where Marines in the field could call for help
from the powerful 155's. But often, it was the Marines at Con Thien
who called for help. This isolated firebase was a thorn in the side
to the enemy and they tried many times to over take the base.
There is not much left of Con Thien today. One can almost drive to the center of the old base now. The command bunker stands gray and naked, stripped of its sandbag covering. A few strands of barbed wire lay rusting around the perimeter. And the occasional faded mesh from ancient sandbags can be seen sticking up from the red clay. The big guns are long gone and peanut fields have taken over fields of fire. Thousands of rubber trees now line up in neat rows where there was once a bitter struggle. It is peaceful here now.
A group of us spent the night here in 1997. It was cold, windy, and wet. But an ox cart loaded with firewood arrived about sunset, led by several older Vietnamese men. We found out they had been NVA in the area during the war. They shared their homemade rice wine and we offered our Jack Daniels. The language barrier became no longer a problem. We understood each other.