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Suoi Tre, Lo Go

Today was our longest day. We visited the sites of the battles at Suoi Tre (FSB Gold) and Lo Go, and came unexpectedly on the site of FSB Washington. Amazing how a GPS helps. We left the hotel at 7 am and didn't get back until after 6 pm. We drove about 350 kilometers, which absolutely amazed everyone.

 






GPS track for the day, with some of the waypoints I used.


Most of the roads were rural. It seemed great to have two lanes with a stripe down the middle. The roads soon narrowed to one lane paved, and then to red clay as we got farther into the countryside. This is typical of the road north of Tay Ninh. Sometimes it was pretty good; other times it was very bumpy, even when paved.


The red clay road on the north side of the Suoi Tre clearing. You can read about the battle here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Suoi_Tre


This photo was taken at the northeast  side of the clearing, looking mostly southwest. Nui Ba Den is in the background. Larry is holding his 22nd Regimental flag.


This panorama shows most of the clearing from the west side to the south.


On the way back to the main road from the Suoi Tre area, we stopped to look at a little hardware. These trailers are made from old Army trucks, and the box sides are made from PSP (pierced steel plate) that the engineers used for making runways at the little out-of-the-way airstrips and we used as the roof of our bunkers. We would build up the sides with sandbags, lay PSP on top, and then cover with more sandbags for protection against shrapnel.


Larry checks out the construction techniques. These trailers are used to haul manioc, which is used to make tapioca and many other products. Often the manioc fields are planted between small rubber trees, because it takes eight years before the rubber tree will begin producing latex.


This trailer is being loaded with manioc roots. The workers carry baskets up a ladder and dump them into the trailer.


This dam on one arm of the big reservoir between Dau Tieng and Tay Ninh is made from a huge rubber bladder. Apparently they pump in or let out water to adjust the upsream water level. Larry said he saw a woman collecting snails below the dam, but I missed her. 


On to Lo Go. This was the spookiest area of the entire trip, because we went from developed areas, although rural, back into jungle. It was thick on both sides of the road, and somewhat reassuring to be in the van. Larry says it was "eerie" and if someone would have tossed a firecracker, we both would have been out of the van and into the ditch. The red clay road brought back memories. It was really helpful to have GPS, military maps from 1960s, and two different highway maps to pin things down.


This photo was taken within a few hundred feet of the Lo Go battle area. Given the possible map and GPS errors, we might have been right on it. The little stream that is the border between Cambodia and Vietnam is behind Larry. We were unable to get close to it in this area, because of the security. We were told there was a military base just to the right of us on this road. We quickly snapped a couple of quick photos and stopped to water the plants at the side of the road. No rest room facilities within miles of this spot.

 

Larry gives a salute to all the friends we lost. They were always in our thoughts.

 

We took the road south of Lo Go along the border. We soon got into developed area, with rice paddies and homes. I was surprised to discover from my GPS that we were getting close to FSB Washington, where I spent a couple of weeks in 1969, so we stopped for a photo. The site of the base is near the second line of trees between Larry and me.


The Vam Co Dong widens out quickly as it heads into the delta area. This photo of a fish trap on the river was taken just a few miles from where it is just a little stream.


We stopped to look at a boat making factory on the river. The little three-foot-long boats on the top of the pile sell for about $10. Our guide Thi grabs a quick shot with his digital camera.


The first thing we did when we returned to civilization was eat again at a restaurant in Tay Ninh.


Larry and I tried to convince the waitress we could only eat one or two courses, but we got the usual five for lunch. It was great, as usual.


Larry noticed an interesting calendar on the wall. It featured photos of a women dressed in a Viet Cong uniform. Notice that she has a bunch of medals.


We were surprised to discover that it was the owner of the restaurant. She had been a VC sniper in the Cu Chi area. She had a scrapbook with photos and letters from 25th Division soldiers who had visited her restaurant. One letter confirmed that the he and the woman had been on opposite sides of a specific battle during the war.

Our last stop for the day was at a restaurant in Trang Bang where we had sodas with Muoi and her family. 

I guess that's probably about all from here. We are taking another day off, and Friday we leave Saigon about 10 am this time (8 pm West Coast). We will be taking many great memories with us, but we will always remember the friends we lost and all the sorrow caused by this war.