Places to go – Xepon Part 1

The town of Xepon appears in more after-action reports, CHECO, and Corona Harvest documentation about the war than any other place on the HCMT. So much went on at Xepon I’m dividing this into two or three parts. I’ll post the other parts in the next few days.

I discovered this song, Tchepone, on YouTube. The lyrics tell a lot about flying near Xepon and perhaps are a microcosm of the entire air war over the Ho CHi Minh Trail. Click on it and let it play as you continue on. (Click Here to read the LYRICS)

Xepon is another of the places Continue reading

Sidebar 7 – Operation Junction City, Jr.

Knife 61 and Knife 62 were shot down during Operation Junction City, Junior. (Don’t confuse this with the US Army 1967 “Operation Junction City.” The ’67 operation was named after the Kansas town, “Junction City.” Google it, and you’ll find lots of info.)

Perhaps the name for this operation (Junction City, Jr.) was well chosen because the goal was capturing the city at the junction of Ho Chi Minh Trail (HCMT) Routes 9 & 23. Route 9 came into Xepon from the east, and Route 23 was a main artery to the southern portion of the HCMT. The town was Muang Phin (also spelled Phine amongst others.)

Road Watch Teams (Operation Shining Brass/Prairie Fire) had unconfirmed reports of American prisoners Continue reading

Ho Chi Minh Trail

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From around 1963 to 1973 the US waged a secret war in Laos. A large portion of that war was against the Ho Chi Minh Trail… or the “Trail”… or just the HCMT.

Even though I’ve been writing about the “Secret War” in Northern Laos, the biggest goal of this “Trail ride” is to see the Trail  up close and personal. So, I thought I should start writing a little about that.

Since my time there, I’ve had a growing desire to see The Trail for myself. Now I’m going to do it on a “trail bike”… on an on/off-road motorcycle. Check out the following video for a glimpse of what I’m talking about:

Ho CHi Minh Trail Ride.

Starting in the early 1960s and for over ten years, Americans waged war on the HCMT. It was mostly Continue reading

Sidebar 2: Down The Rabbit Hole

This morning I got an email from Don Duval, AKA The Midnight Mapper. He attached a link to a newspaper article about a SOG guy who spent time in Southern Laos. The guy, Sgt. “Rap” Peavy, was at a place called “Leghorn.”

I thought Leghorn might be interesting to write about. But… I try to be as factual as possible. The article about Sgt. Peavy had a few niggly errors. I always worry about the attempts at “stolen valor” we see all too often these days. So… I started to check it out.

Before continuing, I need to tell you the “niggly errors” were probably poor reporting, not problems with Sgt. Peavy. He and the place known as “Leghorn” are for real.

US Army communication site Leghorn (Golf-5) on top of a mountain in southern Laos.

After reading the article, I started my search to validate the story. When writing about the Second Indochina War, I try to get at least two sources that confirm the story. I prefer three or more.

One of the best sources are the CHECO reports written to document and chronicle the war. Over the years, I have collected hundreds of these in PDF format. There are also thousands of other government documents I’ve collected. (Again in PDF format.)

Unfortunately, at least half of these documents can’t be scanned with a word search. So I have to read or at least scan through them. While going through the documents, other things catch my attention. I get side-tracked and go off down another rabbit hole.

Then there are the internet searches. Wikipedia usually has something on the topic. Once again, that’s often “flakey” at best and a fairy tale at worst. Yeah, you got it… that sends me off down another rabbit hole to get the facts. (Just the FACs ma’am… just the FACs. Yes… that’s a blatant “plug” for a chapter in More Memories of Naked Fanny )

A problem I have is injecting my own bias into stuff I write. I try not to, but I can’t help it. While writing about LS-36 (soon to be finished), I was including a section about the “heroes” of the battles there. Then it dawned on me… the other side probably has their own heroes and view our guys as villains to their story.

I do wish I had some sources from the “other” side’s point of view… but I’m not sure it would make a lot of difference. We all see the world through our own corrective lenses.

That brings me back to this morning. I spent 4 ½ hours checking out Sgt. Peavy and Leghorn. That barely scratched the surface. It will take at least twice that much more time doing research before I can write about Leghorn… it could take days.

And… during all this, I have a “day job” I should be working. It’s a good thing I’m my own boss. Well… sorta my own boss. My real boss is the woman I’m married to.

So for now, rather than writing about Leghorn, I’m just going to give you the link Don Duval sent me. You may want to check it out for yourself. If so… welcome to my rabbit hole.

Here’s the link:     Sgt. Peavy Story (Opens in a new tab.)