Legend of the, Ho Chi Minh trail
John R. Campbell, a civilian psychological warfare advisor in Vietnam from 1965 to 1967 talks about the bravery and dedication of the troops coming down the trail in Are we Winning? Are they Winning: A Civilian Advisor’s Reflections on Wartime Vietnam, Author House, 2004:
There could not have been a starker documentation of the superiority in the depth of motivation, discipline and self-sacrifice of the average North Vietnamese soldier than knowing when he started down the Ho Chi Minh Trail that no one he had ever known ever came back. Yet they continued to go south in greater and greater numbers, year after year. Documentation shows that while few went with genuine enthusiasm, they still went. It wasn’t as if this was just a vague rumor to them, since for an average of 500 who started down the trail, only 400 came out at the end of their trek south. This was a 20% attrition rate even before they faced an enemy soldier.
In the early days of the war it took six months to travel from North Vietnam to Saigon on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By 1970, regular North Vietnamese Army soldiers could make the journey in six weeks. By the end of the war with motorized transportation the trip might take one week. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 soldiers a month marched south at the height of the trail’s use. And, it wasn’t only men and trucks that came down the Trail. Captain Hammond M. Salley, recalls:
Another misconception is the common belief that the trail was named by the communists in honor of their esteemed leader, Ho Chi Minh. In fact, the designation “Ho Chi Minh Trail” was a slang term coined by the Americans. Throughout the war, and for many years after the conflict ended, the North Vietnamese referred to the network as the “Truong Son Road.” In recent years (I suspect as a result of increased tourism) the Lao and Vietnamese have embraced the name invented by the Americans and now use it on signposts and memorial markers
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