By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Sabor iPad Magazine
The sharpest knives in my kitchen began their careers as bombs. They were packed onto U.S. planes and dropped over Laos in an air war that littered the ground with an estimated 900,000 tons of high-grade metal. The Laotian kitchen has never been the same since.
Neither has the farm.
All across the country, blacksmiths turn bits and bobs of old bombs into household tools: knives and hoes, buckets and bowls, machetes, feed troughs, ladders and planters. The sturdiest rice barns in Laos are built on stilts made from U.S. bomb casings. The soil yields endless fragments of material for gadgets, gizmos and props. Villagers attest: It’s state-of-the-art steel and aluminum that lasts long and works hard. “Bomb scrap is the best metal for knives,” according to an ethnic Hmong villager named Thong Van, who lives in the northern mountains.
The bombs fell between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, unknown to many. In those nine years, U.S. forces flew more than 580,000 sorties, in the equivalent of one raid every eight minutes. READ MORE (PDF)