What the troops faced.
Imagine this, you have been drafted and have just landed in Vietnam. You come into the war with great skepticism. But, probably the one emotion that fills your heart and soul, is fear. This is was exactly what many men during the Vietnam war felt. The main problem in which the United States had to deal with, were that we simply did not know the enemy. In my eyes, in order to when a war, an army has to have the intel that gives them every bit of information about the person or enemy they are fighting against. This is a crucial part of any battle. We entered this war with great confidence that the United States would be able to take control, but the military men with boots on the ground saw differently. “If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."(North par 1). The statement was almost the exact opposite the troops on the ground in North and South Vietnam. The troops had no idea where the enemy was coming from. They had no way of telling the stone cold enemy apart from an innocent man walking home from work. They didn’t know how to counter attack. And probably worst of all, when the troops were marching through the jungles, they would come across nasty booby traps set by the Vietcong.
These traps can be considered a part of guerrilla warfare: a style in which the Vietcong were always using. The common Vietnamese fighter however was not always willing to come and fight in this war. A lot of the time the the Vietcong were pressured in and were very scared of fighting a strong professional military force such as the United States. This is one of the main reasons these traps were set. They obviously were not looked on from the vietcong perspective of a thing that could win the the war but, its purpose was to inflict a large amount of mental damage on the American troops (PBS Par 1-2). This would allow them to have an upper hand in the war. For example, we were fighting on their turf. The Vietnamese fighters knew where to fight and most importantly how to fight. They had to find something to gain an upper hand on the American troops, and setting traps throughout the jungles and forest were a big part of that.
War can do horrible things to innocent people. The mental side of warfare can cause as much or more damage to a person then the actual fighting. Fearing for your life every single minutes of every day can take a toll on people. This is exactly what the troops on the ground in Vietnam were going through. "War trauma leaves physical mark"; "War is hell... it has an impact on the people who take part that never heals" (Mental health par 1-5). The troops had more to fear then just their lives however. Walking through the jungles brought upon many dangers. The traps the Vietcong constructed were both clever and horrifying. For example, one trap the Vietcong would set is a large 5 foot by 5 foot square in the ground, this was the Punji trap . At the bottom of this hole would be about 10 to 12 metal/ bamboo spikes. As if that weren’t enough for the horrible Vietcong, they would cover the tips of these spikes with animal and human poop. Then to top it off, they would cover the opening with small light sticks and a bunch of leaves. An American soldier would walk into this and get stabbed in either the leg or the foot. This alone would be very hard to cure in the environment they were in, but the infection caused by the poop would bring havoc over the victim. The Vietcong would also use the animal resources around them to inflict more fear amongst their enemy. For example, they would take venomous snakes and put them in the Punji traps. Vietcong would also put them in small tunnels where the Americans would be forced to go through (Horrible traps par 1-5).
Another very common trap that was found walking through the jungles of both North and South Vietnam were grenade traps. The vietcong would tie a very thin string to the pin of a grenade and then attach the other end of the string to a tree or branch or whatever would be on the other side of the path. They Vietcong would usually put these very low to the ground so the American forces would have a very slim chance of seeing the string. When a soldier's foot would catch the string, it would put enough pressure on it to pull the pin out, effectively setting off the grenade just inches away from troops. The Vietcong would also do this at the bottoms of necessary streams that the Americans would have to cross (Booby traps par 13). The troops would have absolutely no way of stopping this and would fall victim to the element of surprise once again.
Below is a couple more traps that Vietcong set.
The door trap: The door trap is easily up on the list of the worst and most gruesome traps that the Vietcong came up with. There would be a complex string system at the foot of the door, and when one would trip it, it would release a cross looking structure made out of bamboo. This structure would usually have metal spikes sticking out, and would come down with enough velocity and hit the soldier in the upper torso (Booby traps par 5).
The Spike board: The spike board will deliver the same sort of blow as the door trap, but it is done in a different way. The spike board has a square piece of thin wood attached to the same size piece of wood by a wooden rod. One square would have metal spikes in them, and the the other would have nothing. The square with no spikes would have a fairly deep hole underneath and the other side would not. The side with spikes would be covered in leafs. When a soldier would step on the square with no spikes, it would shoot down, allowing the side with spikes to spring up and hit the person in the upper body and face area (Booby traps par 3).
Booby Traps of the Vietnam War. 5th Battalon the Royal Austrian Regiment
Association Website, www.5rar.asn.au/weapons/boo
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"Mental health consequences of war: a brief review of research findings."
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North, Oliver. "Know Your Enemy." Military.com, 24 June 2004, www.military.com/
Terris, Ryan. "The 5 Most Horrifying Booby Traps in the History of War."
"The War in Vietnam: A Story in Photographs." Archives.gov, www.archives.gov/
Spike Board. 5th Battalon the Royal Austrian Regiment Association Website,
www.5rar.asn.au/weapons/boobytraps.htm. Accessed 2 Nov. 2016.
Door Trap. 5th Battalon the Royal Austrian Regiment Association Website,
www.5rar.asn.au/weapons/boobytraps.htm. Accessed 2 Nov. 2016
Viet Cong. Pinterest.com, www.pinterest.com/explore/viet-cong/. Accessed 1 Nov.