Journal Write: 9-26-11 • What is the most difficult decision you have ever had to make? Did you ultimately decide to do what you thought was right, or what you thought others expected you to do? Do you feel you made the right decision? • Write at least 1-2 paragraphs
“The Things They Carried” Going in the Tunnels
The Mission • “In mid-April, it was their mission to search out and destroy the elaborate tunnel complexes in the Than Ke area south of Chun Lai. To blow the tunnels, they carried one-pound blocks of pentritehigh explosives, four blocks to a man, 68 pounds in all.” The Things They Carried, page 10
Significance of Tunnels • The tunnels were used by NLFguerrillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The role of the tunnel systems should not be underestimated in its importance to the NLF in resisting American operations and protracting the war, eventually persuading the weary Americans into withdrawal.
“compression in all ways…you had to wiggle in—ass and elbows—a swallowed-up feeling” (10).
By 1965, there were over 200 kilometers of connected tunnels. But in most places the passages were very narrow.
Now you see him… Now you don’t.
The tunnels were booby trapped. Many were wired to bombs and other explosives. One of the more common weapons was a catrop, like this, that was sometimes coated in poison or manure on the points.
The Punji stick or Punji stake is a type of a non-explosive booby trap. It is a simple spike, made out of wood or bamboo, generally placed upright in the ground. Punji sticks are usually deployed in substantial numbers.Punji sticks would be placed in areas likely to be passed through by enemy troops. The presence of punji sticks may be camouflaged by natural undergrowth, crops, grass, brush or similar materials. They were often incorporated into various types of traps; for example, a camouflaged pit into which a man might fall
“Will your flashlight go out? Do rats carry rabies? If you screamed, how far would the sound carry? Would your buddies hear it? Would they have the courage to drag you out?” (page 11)