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VN war-era mass grave excavation begins at airport

Update: July, 14/2017 - 09:00
Soldiers of the 7th Military Region are excavating the location where the suspected Việt Nam War-era mass grave of Liberation Army soldiers lies within a 7.5-hectare land lot near Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in HCM City. — Photo infonet.vn
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Several items suspected to be belongings of dead soldiers of the Liberation Army have been uncovered, following days of excavation in an open field west of the busy Tân Sơn Nhất Airport.

The 7.5ha land in Ward 15 of Tân Bình District was suspected to be a mass grave holding hundreds of remains of soldiers killed during the Tết Offensive in 1968.

The military campaign, one of the largest of its kind during the Việt Nam War, was initiated by the People’s Army of Việt Nam against the Americans and their allies in the South. The campaign, launched in the spring of 1968, came as a surprise and dealt a major blow to the US force. However, the campaign was also one of the deadliest in terms of casualties sustained by both sides.

Made in charge of surveying and excavating the site, the 7th Military Region, HCM City Command, Air Force Division 370 and the local department of labour began work one week ago, when information on the specific location of the burial site was still vague. Commanding officers and witnesses from the war were enlisted to help locate the site.

Ngô Tuấn Nghĩa, commissar of the HCM City Command, said, recently, an American war veteran had offered documents and decades-old photos pointing to a possible mass grave within the modern airport’s area.

Vũ Chí Thành, one of the few living survivors of the 16th battalion which struck the airport on January 31, said, less than 100 soldiers survived the offensive out of 550 members of the battalion, and the bodies of 300 dead soldiers remain at large.

Accounts from witnesses corroborated with acquired official documents and photographic evidence, Major General Trần Hữu Tài said.

All construction in the area and its vicinity has been suspended for fear of disturbing the excavation site or in case the excavation site needs to be expanded.

Đào Ngọc Dung, minister of labour, invalids and social affairs, and Đỗ Căn, deputy chief officer of the General Political Department under the Ministry of Defence, on Wednesday arrived at the site, offered instructions and supervised the excavation works.

The excavation is one of the most significant in HCM City and could last for a whole month. — VNS

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