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ជនជាតិខ្មែរកើតនៅលើដីខ្មែរ ត្រូវចេះខំថែជាតិឲ្យបានរុងរឿង កេរ្តិ៍ឈ្មោះជាតិ យើងបានថ្កុំថ្កើង លុះត្រាតែយើងចេះថែរក្សា។ ទោះបីខ្មែររស់នៅប្រទេសណា ចូរកុំភ្លេចថាខ្លួនកើតមកជាខ្មែរ កុំឲ្យបរទេស គេមកបង្វែរ ឲ្យខ្មែរនិងខ្មែរ បែកសាមគ្គីគ្នា ថ្វីបើគេហ៊ានចំណាយ ប្រាក់កាសចាយហូរហៀរយ៉ាងណា ចូរកុំភ្លេច កេរ្តិ៍ឈ្មោះខេមរា រុងរឿងថ្លៃថ្លា តាំងពីបុរាណ ព្រលឹងជាតិនៅគង់វង្សបានយូរ ទាល់តែយើង ស៊ូរួបរួមគ្នាគ្រប់ប្រាណ កសាងជាតិដោយក្តីក្លាហាន នោះជាតិយើងបានស្គាល់ក្តីរុងរឿង។


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When weapons were dispatched through East Sea

One of the disguised cargo ships to carry weapons to the South Vietnam (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Munitions were loaded on a disguised ship to transport to battlefields in the South Vietnam
Tue, November 1, 2011
Tuoi Tre (Hanoi)

Besides the Ho Chi Minh Trail along the Truong Son mountain chain -- Vietnam’s spine -- which was used by the North Vietnamese army to reach the battlefields in the South, another “trail” was established in the East Sea for boats to carry weapons.

Hundreds of cargo vessels, disguised as fishing boats, secretly set sail with hundreds of thousands of tons of weapons and ammunitions from Hanoi to South Vietnam which was ruled by a pro-US regime.

Most of the vessels evaded detection by the Saigon administration and the US army stationed there.

The crews of the ships were suicide squads in a sense: If they failed to elude the enemy and were surrounded by the enemy’s helicopters and warships, the communist soldiers opened fire and blew up their own ships rather than surrender.

Often, the vessels left Hanoi and moved up to Hong Kong and Chinese waters before turning southwards and sailing to the mangrove forests in the Mekong Delta and other coastal localities.

The squads were a forerunner of the current M25 Division of the Vietnamese Navy.

The beginning

It was in 1946 that people in South Vietnam began to resist the French imperialists who were plotting to return to Vietnam after their withdrawal a year earlier.

Duong Quang Dong, alias Nam Dong, and Captain Le Van Mot were the first pilots in the campaign to transport ammunition.

Then the southern party committee mobilized 33 kilograms of gold from locals who wanted to contribute to the revolutionary movement. Of this 25 kg were entrusted to Nam Dong who sailed westwards to Thailand to buy weapons.

On February 20, 1946, the two pilots left from Bien Nhi Canal in Ca Mau Province and arrived in Thailand two days later.

There, Nam Dong established relations with patriotic overseas Vietnamese and luckily linked up with Tran Van Giau, Bong Van Dia, and a Vietnamese Buddhist monk at the Bao An Pagoda.

In his memoirs written 50 years later in 1996, Nam Dong said: “[Someone] doing the right job will always be aided by righteous and talented companions.”

The weapons bought in Thailand were stored in the monk’s pagoda in preparation for carrying home.

Besides organizing ox carts, 10 elephants, and 70 Vietnamese and Cambodian porters to carry the weapons from Bangkok via Cambodia into southern Vietnam, the monk, to divert any possible attention from local authorities, personally accompanied porters loading 14 tons of weapons and ammunition on two ships.

The cargo was safely brought to Vietnam though the larger of the vessels, with 10 tons of cargo, ran into fierce winds and had to shelter on Tho Chu Island just 10 nautical miles from Vietnam before unloading the cargo on the mainland a month later.

Nam Dong was then made chief of the Southern Maritime Department of the Revolutionary Force and was in charge of weapons transport.

On the western sea route, six vessels transported more than 97,000 tons of weapons by 1952 until the Thai government was overthrown in a coup.

In 1961 Nam Dong, Muoi Vinh, and her son resumed their weapon transport on the other sea route on the East Sea.

Since she got no money from the party committee in the South, Muoi Vinh had to borrow 10 taels of gold from friends and neighbors to buy a boat, a motor, and a fishing net for cover. She later managed to repay the loan by selling vegetable and doing other jobs.

She even permitted her 17-year-old son to join Nam Dong in transporting weapons from Hanoi. Recently she told Tuoi Tre in an interview: “I did it because I believed in Nam Dong and the revolutionary movement.”

Nam Dong and Le Van Mot and others successfully made their first trip in the East Sea with 30 tons of weapons from Hanoi.


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