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  • Deep in the jungles of Vietnam,

  • soldiers from both sides

  • battled heat exhaustion and each other

  • for nearly 20 long years.

  • But the key to Communist victory

  • wasn't weapons or stamina,

  • it was a dirt road.

  • The Ho Chi Minh Trail,

  • winding through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia,

  • started as a simple network of dirt roads

  • and blossomed into the centerpiece

  • of the winning North Vietnamese strategy

  • during the Vietnam War,

  • supplying weapons,

  • troops,

  • and psychological support to the South.

  • The trail was a network of tracks,

  • dirt roads,

  • and river crossings

  • that threaded west out of North Vietnam

  • and south along the Truong Son Mountain Range

  • between Vietnam and Laos.

  • The journey to the South originally took six months.

  • But, with engineering and ingenuity,

  • the Vietnamese expanded and improved the trail.

  • Towards the end of war,

  • as the main roads detoured through Laos,

  • it only took one week.

  • Here is how it happened.

  • In 1959, as relations deteriorated

  • between the North and the South,

  • a system of trails was constructed in order to infiltrate

  • soldiers, weapons, and supplies into South Vietnam.

  • The first troops moved in single-file

  • along routes used by local ethnic groups,

  • and broken tree branches at dusty crossroads

  • were often all that indicated the direction.

  • Initially, most of the Communist cadres

  • who came down the trail

  • were Southerners by birth who had trained in North Vietnam.

  • They dressed like civilian peasants

  • in black, silk pajamas with a checkered scarf.

  • They wore Ho Chi Minh sandals on their feet,

  • cut from truck tires,

  • and carried their ration of cooked rice

  • in elephants' intestines,

  • a linen tube hung around the body.

  • The conditions were harsh

  • and many deaths were caused by exposure,

  • malaria,

  • and amoebic dysentery.

  • Getting lost,

  • starving to death,

  • and the possibility of attacks by wild tigers or bears

  • were constant threats.

  • Meals were invariably just rice and salt,

  • and it was easy to run out.

  • Fear, boredom, and homesickness

  • were the dominant emotions.

  • And soldiers occupied their spare time

  • by writing letters,

  • drawing sketches,

  • and drinking and smoking with local villagers.

  • The first troops down the trail

  • did not engage in much fighting.

  • And after an exhausting six month trip,

  • arriving in the South was a real highlight,

  • often celebrated by bursting into song.

  • By 1965, the trip down the trail could be made by truck.

  • Thousands of trucks supplied by China and Russia

  • took up the task amidst ferocious B-52 bombing

  • and truck drivers became known as pilots of the ground.

  • As traffic down the trail increased,

  • so did the U.S. bombing.

  • They drove at night or in the early morning

  • to avoid air strikes,

  • and watchmen were ready

  • to warn drivers of enemy aircraft.

  • Villages along the trail organized teams

  • to guarantee traffic flow

  • and to help drivers repair damage caused by air attacks.

  • Their catch cries were,

  • "Everything for our Southern brothers!"

  • and, "We will not worry about our houses

  • if the vehicles have not yet gotten through."

  • Some families donated their doors

  • and wooden beds to repair roads.

  • Vietnamese forces even used deception

  • to get the U.S. aircraft to bomb mountainsides

  • in order to make gravel for use

  • in building and maintaining roads.

  • The all-pervading red dust seeped into every nook and cranny.

  • The Ho Chi Minh Trail had a profound impact

  • on the Vietnam War

  • and it was the key to Hanoi's success.

  • North Vietnamese victory was not determined by the battlefields,

  • but by the trail,

  • which was the political,

  • strategic,

  • and economic lynchpin.

  • Americans recognized its achievement,

  • calling the trail,

  • "One of the great achievements

  • in military engineering of the 20th century."

  • The trail is a testimony to the strength of will

  • of the Vietnamese people,

  • and the men and women who used the trail

  • have become folk heros.

Deep in the jungles of Vietnam,

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B1 TED-Ed trail vietnam vietnamese minh chi

【TED-Ed】The infamous and ingenious Ho Chi Minh Trail - Cameron Paterson

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    wikiHuang posted on 2013/12/25
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