Photographer's Note

.Take 3 (Click the number for info of entire trip)

This is another part of my report on our "pocket-size mission to Chong Kneas, Cambodia" that will be a multi-day posting that we hope to be helpful to those who plan to follow our steps.

The story will be long, from Saigon to Chong Kneas.
For your reference, the 237km-distance between Saigon > Phnom Penh is divided as following:

* Saigon > Moc Bai/Bavet = 71km
* Moc Bai/Bavet > Svay Rieng = 40km
* Svay Rieng > Neak Luong = 65km
* Neak Luong > Phnom Penh = 61km

For the previous postings, please use this theme. Thanks.

The first hundred kilometers on National Route 1 from Bavet is in good shape that allows a quick and easy flow of traffic. We arrived East bank of the Mekong River in Neak Luong around 11:00 AM, and were lucky to board the ferry immediately without waiting. There is an army of beggars on the ferry platform and this is the picture of two of them.

We kept being fed with the news of construction of a bridge that spans the Mekong soon at this location but so far it is just a rumor. In the meantime everyone knew this town is one of the worst stench in American military history after a B-52 Stratofortress mistakenly emptied its 20-ton load over innocent people. A mile-long string of more than 30 craters, running down the main street, had completely wiped out one-third of Neak Luong and heavily damaged another third. Thatch and wood shacks occupied by 3,000 soldiers and marines and their families were wiped out. The marketplace was destroyed. Even two-story steel-reinforced concrete buildings were shattered. Gruesome Debris. The impact from the American bombs, and from the government ammunition dumps ignited by them, strewed a gruesome debris of human limbs and bloody bedding all over the town. For acres, trees were denuded and charred. Days later, survivors still searched the rubble for missing family members. Many turned up in Phnom-Penh's overcrowded hospitals with arms and legs missing, puzzled as to why the US had bombed them. The intensive bombardment razed Neak Luong to the ground in an attempt to halt Khmer Rouge advance on Phnom Penh. After killing 137 civilians and wounded 268, the US government tried to cover it up by keeping the media out. The US ambassador offered compensation of US$100 per family and the navigator of the B-52 was fined US$700, which pretty much summed the American attitude to the price of Cambodian lives in this most miserable of sideshows.

The date of incident became part of history: Aug. 7, 1973. This page of history has been uncovered by New York Times’ correspondents Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran. In 1984, the true story has been filmed under the name The Killing Fields.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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