This is a simple, yet powerful, video cataloging the 600,000 bombing missions and 2 million tons of bombs the U.S. dropped over Laos from 1964-73. I’ve never been able to comprehend the scale of the bombing in Laos because it’s hard to get a handle on such large numbers. This short video helps put it into perspective.
The person who made the video, Jerry Redfern, also has a new book out Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos (co-authored with his wife, Karen Coates).
Meeting to Ban Cluster Munitions in Laos (with photos)
Lingering Effects of the War in Laos
Impressive map, Patrick. (I can now view You Tube!) Safest place at the time was anywhere above 30,000 feet.
Welcome to the world of youtube, Robert. 🙂 Whenever I post a video clip, I’m conscious that some parts of the world may not be able to see it.
It looks like you’re right about 30,000 feet. By the time the bombing ended, there really wasn’t much area left untouched. Maybe Sainyabuli, or the towns along the Mekong. Those single, stray markers near Vientiane are also intriguing. I also wonder what number of these were not even targets. I remember reading that many pilots returning to Thailand from Hanoi would unload ordnance on Laos rather than risk detonation upon landing.
Re ‘dump it on Laos’. I think it was not so much fear of detonation on landing back in Thailand as fear of a negative supervisor’s report. Total tonnage dropped on North Vietnam was greater than that on Laos, but there were some ‘guidelines’ and theoretical taboos. Bombing a VN hospital, school or place of worship (not so many in N Vietnam) was a no go (although at 30,000 feet, whose checking?). But such taboos did not apply in Laos, where the only no-go was bombing the Chinese in the north. Since officially there was no bombing anywhere, obviously there were no restrictions on bombing. Plus of course the anti-aircraft fire was much more a reality east of the border. So any pilot that couldn’t find target, or didn’t risk looking for it, jettisoned in the Lao free fire zone. Sanyabouli was largely free of bombing ~but then bombers took off from Thailand and some of the pilots were Thai, and Thailand still regarded Sanyabouli as rightly Thailand. I’m glad it escaped, as in the early 1980s I often had to walk 10 kms through marshland there and 10 kms back. Nobody ever mentioned the possibility of meeting UXO back then.
btw Book and film are now available to view or buy at the rehabilitation centre, Vientiane (also in the USA).
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