Vietnam Time

7/14/2017 9:38:57 AM

Remains of martyrs in Tan Son Nhat airport searched day and night

(VNF) - Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, Deputy Chairman of the General Political Department, said military forces are working day and night to search for the remains of martyrs at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

He made the statement at a press conference on July 13th while answering reporters’ queries about the search for the remains of martyrs at Tan Son Nhat airport, adding that military forces will do their best to bring fallen soldiers home.

Soldiers of the 7th Military Region are excavating the location where the suspected Vietnam War-era mass grave of Liberation Army soldiers lies within a 7.5-hectare land lot near Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo infonet.vn)

Several items suspected to be belongings of fallen soldiers of the Liberation Army have been uncovered last week, following days of excavation in an open field west of the busy Tan Son Nhat Airport.

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

The name of the offensive comes from the Tet holiday, or Vietnamese Lunar New Year, when the first major attacks took place.

The piece of land where the excavation is being carried out used to be under the management of the 370th Air Force Division before being transferred to estate developer CT Land for a commercial project.

A similar search operation which took place in 1995 just 100 meters away from the site revealed the remains of 182 soldiers.

The military campaign, one of the largest of its kind during the Vietnam War, was initiated by the People’s Army of Vietnam 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 U.S. force. However, the campaign was also one of the deadliest in terms of casualties sustained by both sides.

Ho Minh City Military Command officers discuss excavation plans. (Photo: tuoitrenews.vn)

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.

Major General Ngo Tuan Nghia, 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.

Vu Chi Thanh, one of the few living survivors of the 16th battalion which struck the airport on January 31st, said, less than 100 soldiers survived the offensive out of 550 members of the battalion, and the remains of more than 300 soldiers who fought in the battle were never found.

Accounts from witnesses corroborated with acquired official documents and photographic evidence, Major General Tran Huu Tai 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.

Dao Ngoc Dung, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and Do Can, Deputy Chief officer of the General Political Department under the Ministry of Defence, on Wednesday (July 12th) arrived at the site, offered instructions and supervised the excavation works./.

Le Cong Hoang (white shirt), a Republic of Vietnam veteran, describes the location of the mass grave to military officers. (Photo: tuoitrenews.vn)

Le Cong Hoang, a Republic of Vietnam veteran, offers incense to fallen Vietnamese soldiers. (Photo: tuoitrenews.vn)

Major General Ngo Tuan Nghia supervises excavation works inside Tan Son Nhat International Airport. (Photo: tuoitrenews.vn)

Compiled by VNF  
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