Khe Sanh  
hills.jpg (53522 bytes)In January of 1968, the eyes of the world were focused on this tiny airstrip located in the middle of nowhere. Though Khe Sanh's strategic value is subject to question, it gained stature as the most famous battles of the Vietnam war when nearly 7,000 U.S. troops became surrounded by more than 40,000 NVA regulars. The defenders, mostly Marines, were kept under siege for 77 days and visions of Dien Bien Phu haunted the President Johnson and his staff.

 

The Vietnamese never attacked the base but they bombarded it daily with their big guns hidden in the hills across the Laotion boarder. Heavy cloud cover  and bad weather made it nearly impossible to give Khe Sanh the air support or supply that it needed, leaving the defenders constantly under the threat of being overrun. The enemy could be seen digging their way closer to the base with each passing day. Khesanh.jpg (32174 bytes)Though the base was never attacked, there was ferocious fighting in the hills that surrounded Khe Sanh. In March, when the Marines began to expand their patrols into the hills, they found that most of the enemy had vanished. The enemy had withdrawn his troops and went around Khe Sanh to launch the Tet Offensive of '68.

trash.jpg (18285 bytes)Today, there is not much left of Khe Sanh. What the American engineers and bombers did not destroy, the Vietnamese have carted away. Nothing grows on the big red scar that was once the airstrip and there are thousands of small holes where scavengers have tried to find souvenirs to sell to the tourists. The rockets, artillery rounds and such that I saw there in 1995 have all been hauled away. Within the past three years, the Vietnamese have built a museum on the site and are constucting some pretty lame 'bunkers' to lure tourism to the site.