April 15: Noi’s life with bombs

Karen writes for Chime for Change about Noi, a woman we met in Phongsali Province, Laos, in 2010.

Noi points to where her family house used to be in Sophoon before it was destroyed in a US bombing raid in 1964.
Noi points to where her family house used to be in Sophoon before it was destroyed in a US bombing raid in 1964.

I sit with Noi and her sister, Awn, as the two ebullient women tell me about the war. “I still remember,” Noi says. “I was young. The bombs, the fighting. The airplanes.” It was 1964 when a big bomb hit her house. “After that: smoke around me. I didn’t know where to go. There was no one to pick me up. My friend’s father shouted, ‘Noi, Noi, are you dead?’ I heard him, but all around, the houses were burning.” An American bomb had set several homes ablaze and sent shrapnel flying in every direction.

You can read the rest here, at the Chime for Change site.

April 10: On LBJ’s Lao legacy

Sou Lin Phan poses next to a large dud bomb in the middle of his village. Over several years in the late 60s and early 70s, the US dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on northern Laos in a futile effort to stop North Vietnamese soldiers from using the area as a base and transshipment line to South Vietnam.  As much as 30 percent of the bombs dropped did not explode and they can be seen around the countryside today. They also pose a continuing threat to life.
Sou Lin Phan poses next to a large dud bomb in the middle of his village. Over several years in the late 60s and early 70s, the US dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on northern Laos in a futile effort to stop North Vietnamese soldiers from using the area as a base and transshipment line to South Vietnam.
As much as 30 percent of the bombs dropped did not explode and they can be seen around the countryside today. They also pose a continuing threat to life.

The family of Lyndon B. Johnson thinks that the long, dark shadow of the war in Vietnam has shrouded his positive achievements here in the US. And, this year, they want to try to rectify that imbalance. That’s a fine idea, as long as they also note another signature, yet greatly overlooked achievement of his: he began the bombing in Laos.

Karen wrote about this for al Jazeera America, and asked the Johnson family to remember all that has been forgotten from the era – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

NEWS ROUNDUP October 2013

October201310/11/13
Ambassador Who Oversaw Bombing Dies

From the New York Times: “William H. Sullivan, a career diplomat who spent much of the 1960s and 1970s in volatile parts of the world — notably Laos, where he oversaw a secret bombing campaign, and Iran, where he was the last United States ambassador before militants took embassy employees hostage in November 1979 — died on Oct. 11 in Washington. He was 90.” See the full story here.