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Battlefield Clearing

I've read about American veterans going back to visit their old firebases , major ones like Khe Sahn , and not finding a thing left . Everything got recovered in the years after the war , either for scrap , or for the subsequent wars against the Cambodians and the Chinese

When I was working on a project in Quang Tri that funded by American veterans we had a few visits.

Bear in mind ‘Doi Moi’* didn’t happen until the mid 1990s these visits didn’t happen until some 25+ years after US troops left Vietnam. That’s a lot of time for a bit of scrap metal clearance in some very poor and remote villages like Khe Sanh (which actually has a little museum on site).

There were still some odd armoured vehicle bodies around in 2000 and a Chinook carcass in a school playground.

You could actually see more jeeps being used in Cambodia in 1998 than in Vietnam, although normally with different engines.

There wasn’t much use of US weapons post the fall of Vietnam*. There was no need to, as the amount of Soviet and Chinese ordnance available was prodigious. There are of course some war-era M16 around but these are a minority and mainly visible at ‘ranges’ where stupid tourists can pay $1 a round to shoot one. Or $100 to fire an RPG.

The three things I saw the most:

PSP airfield matting widely used in Laos for fencing

*. Wooden (mainly Soviet) ammunition boxes used as boxes for electricity meters in Cambodia. Largely replaced now.

* Aluminium packing pieces from illumination rounds widely used as ice hammers in Cambodian and Laotian bars. So much so that they now make copies of them in Cambodia still for use as ice hammers.

* The exception - and the oddest piece of ordnance recycling I saw - was the B40 projected grenade, which was a Vietnamese cottage industry mashup of a PG2 launch motor and an American BLU-24 cluster munition, with a recycled mortar fuze, fired from an RPG2.

There was also a P40 anti-personnel fragmentation mine, also made from a BLU-24 but this time adding an MUV igniter and a trip wire.
 
I seem to recall hearing somewhere that one of the biggest sources of revenue for the newly independent Libyan government before the oil revenue started was selling WWII scrap from what was lying all over the deserts, no idea how true that is.

I also believe that in the US, prior to integration, burial and grave registration was usually a job for black troops who were not usually (there were of course exceptions) deployed on the front line.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
There wasn’t much use of US weapons post the fall of Vietnam*. There was no need to, as the amount of Soviet and Chinese ordnance available was prodigious. There are of course some war-era M16 around but these are a minority and mainly visible at ‘ranges’ where stupid tourists can pay $1 a round to shoot one. Or $100 to fire an RPG.
Whether they used them or not at the end of the war the Viets were in possession of fcuktons of the various AR15 types - and lots of twenty rd mags.

A couple of dealers I know wholesale steel thirty rd mags which function flawlessly but are totally devoid of markings.
Their origin stumped me but apparently they're part of a cottage industry in VN.

* The exception - and the oddest piece of ordnance recycling I saw - was the B40 projected grenade, which was a Vietnamese cottage industry mashup of a PG2 launch motor and an American BLU-24 cluster munition, with a recycled mortar fuze, fired from an RPG2.

There was also a P40 anti-personnel fragmentation mine, also made from a BLU-24 but this time adding an MUV igniter and a trip wire.
A friend has an interesting piece of VC (?) ingenuity - a curved thirty rd mag made of a couple of twenties slotted and riveted together.
I'll ask him to send a photo.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
I also believe that in the US, prior to integration, burial and grave registration was usually a job for black troops who were not usually (there were of course exceptions) deployed on the front line.
Any link ?
It sounds like BLM/KGB Resident "fact."

Happy to be proven wrong.
 
Didn't the Rhodesians acquire a couple of South Vietnamese UH1's that had made it out to HK ?
 

DAS

War Hero
As I recall some Irish guy called Mansfield made a killing (excuse the pun) after Corporate. Buying up stuff in the Falklands.
Correct. He's dead now. Used to fly between city west and Palmerstown golf courses, about 15km, as it was supposedly quicker than driving.

Edit: Beaten to it by a couple of hours.
 
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Whether they used them or not at the end of the war the Viets were in possession of fcuktons of the various AR15 types - and lots of twenty rd mags.

A couple of dealers I know wholesale steel thirty rd mags which function flawlessly but are totally devoid of markings.
Their origin stumped me but apparently they're part of a cottage industry in VN.


A friend has an interesting piece of VC (?) ingenuity - a curved thirty rd mag made of a couple of twenties slotted and riveted together.
I'll ask him to send a photo.

Makes complete sense. Vietnamese skills with machine tools are legendary in the region.

If you think that only 10% of cluster munitions don’t work, how many BLU-24 would there need to have been to tool up two different production lines to recycle them?

Beggars belief. Especially when we remember the BLU24 was one of many different types used.
 
The Jocko podcast, episode 220, is about a USMC reserve infantry unit, that was converted to Mortuary affairs. Intresting listen
 

QRK2

LE
When I was working on a project in Quang Tri that funded by American veterans we had a few visits.

Bear in mind ‘Doi Moi’* didn’t happen until the mid 1990s these visits didn’t happen until some 25+ years after US troops left Vietnam. That’s a lot of time for a bit of scrap metal clearance in some very poor and remote villages like Khe Sanh (which actually has a little museum on site).

There were still some odd armoured vehicle bodies around in 2000 and a Chinook carcass in a school playground.

You could actually see more jeeps being used in Cambodia in 1998 than in Vietnam, although normally with different engines.

There wasn’t much use of US weapons post the fall of Vietnam*. There was no need to, as the amount of Soviet and Chinese ordnance available was prodigious. There are of course some war-era M16 around but these are a minority and mainly visible at ‘ranges’ where stupid tourists can pay $1 a round to shoot one. Or $100 to fire an RPG.

The three things I saw the most:

PSP airfield matting widely used in Laos for fencing

*. Wooden (mainly Soviet) ammunition boxes used as boxes for electricity meters in Cambodia. Largely replaced now.

* Aluminium packing pieces from illumination rounds widely used as ice hammers in Cambodian and Laotian bars. So much so that they now make copies of them in Cambodia still for use as ice hammers.

* The exception - and the oddest piece of ordnance recycling I saw - was the B40 projected grenade, which was a Vietnamese cottage industry mashup of a PG2 launch motor and an American BLU-24 cluster munition, with a recycled mortar fuze, fired from an RPG2.

There was also a P40 anti-personnel fragmentation mine, also made from a BLU-24 but this time adding an MUV igniter and a trip wire.

There was lot of French (US manufactured) kit left up at DBP twenty years ago but that is of course a sort of national shrine for them and the village fences were predominantly PSP there as well.
 
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Any link ?
It sounds like BLM/KGB Resident "fact."

Happy to be proven wrong.
It's just something that I remember reading somewhere, I very much doubt it was from a BLM source as I don't go looking in those places, but on checking it out I see that there aren't a lot of sources.

There are several photos and videos of black troops engaged in burying the dead but in a cursory search I haven't found any specific link that they did it more than any other troops, perhaps I simply need to research it more.

But given that the shitty, non-combat jobs were usually reserved for black troops, I don't think stating that is particularly controversial, I can imagine that black troops would have played a major role in clearing up battlefields and burying dead.

However, if you don't think this is so I am happy to leave it there, it's not something about which I have strong opinions either way.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Pikeys. Lots of money in scrap metal, and if the occasional bit goes bang; oh well.
Arab Scrap dealers recovered many of the AFVs and equipment left on the North African WW2 battlefields.

During the world wars much was recycled by the combatants. Its why there are few remains from the hundreds of Luftwaffe aircraft shot down over Britain in 1940-41.
 
There was a link on here to a film about a US Army salvage operation out east. I think it was WW2, not Vietnam. It might actually have been an Army film. They had it off to a T, reuse, repair etc,. weapons, vehicles, personal kit, absolutely everything. If I can find it again I'll post another link.
War Department bulletin 171 but cant find a decent copy online at the moment
I seem to recall hearing somewhere that one of the biggest sources of revenue for the newly independent Libyan government before the oil revenue started was selling WWII scrap from what was lying all over the deserts, no idea how true that is.

I also believe that in the US, prior to integration, burial and grave registration was usually a job for black troops who were not usually (there were of course exceptions) deployed on the front line.
QMC troops were mostly black to begin with but there were white GRC as well. in many cases German POW's were also used as gravediggers and moving remains.


 
I did a couple of days on clearance of the Basra road, before before the chunkies turned up and took over. By a country mile, the worst experience of my life, and one of the reasons that I can't stand dogs to this day.
I tip my hat to you.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer

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