Tunnels: Cu Chi Vietnam
Tunnels are used for many reasons like transportation, Pipes and buildings. Yet there is another reason tunnels are made and that is for use in War. No matter how ugly it its war tunnels can be very beneficial to those that dig them. They are used as defense shields, armament building as well as transportation to the front lines undetected. For, those that remember there was a series of tunnels under Cu Chi Vietnam that frustrated American efforts to no end.
The concept of tunnels goes way back in modern warfare but nothing like the tactics that were involved in Vietnam. The Vietcong of the region built hundreds of miles of tunnels under their cities to evade the oncoming American army. That mixed with their guerilla tactics they were successful in evading and killing. One instance that comes to mind is in late December nineteen sixty six the American forces armed themselves and went to Cu Chi Vietnam. There were more than five thousand American troops for the mission but when there aircraft landing and expecting a lot of resistance there was none. Somehow the Vietcong knew they were coming and escaped using the tunnels they had dug under the city. They seemed to have just vanished into thin air as the Americans were moving in.
Underneath the huge city of Cu Chi Vietnam the guerrilla forces of the north had dug miles and miles of tunnels to use as escape routes, reloading banks and bunkers. The tunnels after being explored were estimated to be about 200 miles or more long. An extraordinary feat of engineering for a loosely assembled army at the time. As well as being under constant threat of attack from the south. These underground fortresses can still be seen today. Where hundreds if not thousands of Vietcong waited and lived until there time to come out firing was needed.
As you explore these caverns and tunnels dug by hand they can become very claustrophobic in moment’s notice. Most were hardly big enough for a regular size man to fit through. As you walked along these three feet by three feet tunnels they come out to grander openings of ten feet by ten feet. These chambers that interconnected the internal tunnels were used to live in by the Vietcong. As well as hold meetings with troops and places to stock and store ammunition.
The atmosphere these people had to live in was horrendous compared to modern living conditions of the world’s armies. The underground air was not refreshed and was usually stale and humid for its inhabitants. The tunnels smelled of urine and feces since there was no drainage for the waste water to move along with. Food was often in short supply because of the war effort so many people even died of starvation and the stench of death in these tunnels still lingers today.
There were positives although not many considering the conditions of these tunnels. The Vietcong would commonly make the best of it and entertain themselves with troupes of actors and entertainers that toured the tunnels. The performances were meant to improve the moral of the soldiers who lived in the tunnels during war time.
Of all the tunnels found in and around Vietnam Cu Chi had the largest and most elaborate complex. It proved very formidable defense for the city. Highly trained Americans were developed known as “tunnel rats” they burned, blew up and caved in many of the tunnels but still somehow the Vietcong managed to defend them. Today the tunnels of the war era have been restored and are now a big tourist attraction in Cu Chi, Vietnam. They have named the tunnels under this city the Iron Land of Cu Chi I guess rightly so.