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After spending 4 or 5 days in Nha Trang I was ready to get moving again, so I hopped on a bus and headed north to Quang Ngai. Quang Ngai province was the scene of some of the worst fighting during the War. If there was one place you didn't want to be as an American serviceman, it was Quang Ngai. The area around the city had always been a VietCong stronghold and the US did everything it could think of to root out the well entrenched VC. The result was villages got napalmed, B-52s carpet bombed daily, helicopter gunships roamed the skies and rocketed anything that moved on the ground, and basically the whole province was utterly destroyed.

All to no avail. The VC were never moved out and this area remained a bad place to be for the duration of the war. Perhaps the main reason I wanted to go to Quang Ngai was to visit the site of one of the most brutal war crimes of the Vietnam War, the My Lai Massacre, which is right outside the city of Quang Ngai.

History lesson: "The 11th Brigade built a base camp in the town of Duc Pho, a small village in the southern part of Quang Ngai province. This was an area that was dominated by the Viet Cong for many years prior to 1967. Sympathy for Ho Chi Minh and his "holy cause" ran deep. So much so that the only way to defeat the Viet Cong in the Duc Pho-Mo Duc district was to wipe out the villages. By the time the 11th Infantry Brigade arrived in the town of Duc Pho,  it was estimated that 70% of the homes in the province were already destroyed. And this was months before the massive Tet Offensive of February, 1968 when North Vietnam launched a nationwide coordinated attack on hundreds of towns and villages in South Vietnam. Total destruction was the military’s solution on how to deal with an enemy that could not be understood and often could not be seen."

It would take me too long to go into the particulars of that awful day in March, 1968, so it might be easier to just go to the link below and read about it there. To make a long story short, the perps of this terrible crime, Charlie Company, went into the hamlet of My Lai 4 and killed between 200 and 500 (nobody knows for sure how many it was) innocent Vietnamese villagers that morning, then the Army covered the whole incident up. It didn't come to light for two years afterwards when some of the US soldiers who were there started talking. The Army fessed up, and Lt Calley was convicted of committing 24 of the murders. He was later pardoned by Nixon after he served about 2 years of house arrest.

Anyway, go to the sites linked below for the whole, awful story.
     
      Link to My Lai Massacre site  
     

The whole awful story from the acclaimed PBS documentary series "American Experience". 

90 minutes HD

 
 

 
Today it's a beautiful, haunting place. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was there a few months ago.
Anyway, Quang Ngai today is a bustling city far different than it was 35 years ago. I was there for three days and I was the only foreigner I saw the whole time. Check out the pictures of the people I took in the Quang Ngai market. Beautiful, friendly people.

 
 
   
 

Why not stay in the best hotel in town? Ngai market. Luxury for $20/night

 
 

 
   
  This is the memorial statue at the My Lai site.  

 

 
I was told by the guide that the woman on the right was one of the residents of My Lai during the massace, and survived because she happened to be in another village that day.  

 

 

The village of My Lai was not rebuilt after the Americans burned it down after the massacre. When they turned the site into a shrine and memorial they built up the earth where the huts once stood. The granite markers give the names of the people who lived there and were killed in each of the huts.

 

 
 

The little earthen shelter behind the huts was for protection during the almost daily artillery shelling by the Americans. Some of the villagers took refuge in there during the attack by Charlie Company, but were all killed when the soldiers lobbed hand grenades in.

 

 

The ditch above is where Charlie Co. herded about 70 of the villagers during the morning, then took 10 minutes to kill all of them, mostly women and children, with machine guns

 

 

   

 

 

The day after I went to My Lai I spent the day wandering around the city of Quang Ngai. I ended up down at the market, where I was a big hit with some of the lady sellers, as the following pictures show. I've been in a lot of Asian markets (every single town has one) and by far this was the most memorable.

 

Magic happened.

 
 
    I bought some oranges from this mother and daughter in the market.    
 
 

I have no idea what the woman above was selling. She asked me to take her picture, and I obliged.

 

 

The woman below was selling shrimp, and those are some wild pants....

 
 
     

Without a doubt, the market in Quang Ngai was one of the most memorable parts of my trip. Just about every lady had a smile and something nice to say, even if I couldn't really understand what they were saying. I've never been to a market that had as many smiles as fish....

These women were hilarious, and as you can see, seem to be enjoying themselves

 

 
 
  One of the reasons I travel is for the unexpected things that happen. On the morning I was leaving Quang Ngai to go to Hoi An I was sitting in the train station and this very beautiful girl came and sat down next to me, and asked if she could practice her English. Never one to say no to a pretty face, I said sure. We chatted for well over an hour sitting on that bench, and her English was superb. This gal is probably the most memorable person that I met the whole trip. Look at her dignity and pride. What a awesome chick. That's her mom behind her, wearing the yellow hat.     
 

 

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