Working for the DMZ
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The pictures on this page are Thumbnails.  To see a larger version, click on the picture.

DMZ or Demilitarized Zone was an area between North and South Vietnam called "No Man's Land".  This was an area where no military personnel of either country could be posted.  This was also an area of high infiltration of North Vietnamese Soldiers in the South.  Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had a brilliant idea to make a desolate area across the width of this boundary.  Defoliating trees and then plowing the area bare, the final step was to put up a barrier of barbed wire, fortifications, and interlocking fire.

At our camp way further to the south of the DMZ, my platoon was charged with the task of demonstrating to a couple of  hundred high ranking officers, ambassadors, and defense brainiac civilians how this barrier might be breached.  The task was a combat engineer's dream.  We got to blow up anything we could touch, cut wire, charge a position, and just go crazy with no rules to go by except don't blow up the dignitaries.

We were allowed to practice, since one could assume the Viet Cong and NVA (North Vietnamese Army) could be expected to practice before trying to cross some 500 yards of various barriers.  We used bangladore torpedoes, daisy chain grenades, ladders, det cord, C-4, and sometimes bodies to get through it.  We proved that the barrier was little more than a fly on the tail of a cow.  What the enemy could not go through, they simply went around into Laos or Cambodia to get into Vietnam.  Although we blew a lot of wire to kingdom come, our most effective effort was to simply sneak around the side of the barrier.

Here are some pictures of "McNamara's Folly".  All the pictures are "thumbnails".  To see a larger version, double click the small picture.

dmz bunker.jpg (23721 bytes) Once you got through the barbed wire barriers, you faced towers with spotlights, and bunkers with interlocking machine gun emplacements and some with recoilless rifles.  We built one of these towers at our small Mekong Delta Battalion basecamp.  I tried to tell the infantry battalion commander that it would only become an aiming point for VC mortars.  The night it was completed and the search light in place, we were heavily mortared.  The tower was built on top of the battalion command post.

After a week of construction, we pulled the tower down the next day.  The battalion commander was eventually relieved for other reasons...he crashed three helicopters on rice paddy dikes attempting to land in order to take personal charge of combat situations.  We did not mourn his leaving.

dmz scar.jpg (52731 bytes) This is a pretty good view of concertina wire, so called because it comes bundled like a concertina accordion and then you just pull it out.   There is a prescribed way of building this barrier and there are a few good ways of getting through it, not the least of which is shooting a rope and hook over it and just dragging it away.
dmz.jpg (30853 bytes) This is about a hundred yards of tanglefoot barbed wire with concertina "sewn" through it. You really have to be fleet of foot to get through this, or else just have your platoon carry a lot of 12 foot boards and throw them on top of the wire.