Vietcong Tunnels

Jessica Kastello | Hour 6 | Project 22

Deconstructing History - Cu Chi Tunnels

About the Tunnels

A lot of the war was fought at the Cu Chi tunnels. It was one of South Vietnam’s last standing defenses against the North. Cu Chi is roughly 1.5 hours from Saigon city center, where the south army had their government. Vietcong built the impressive network of tunnels over 20 years! Six villages lived under ground in the tunnels. The tunnels are so extensive and detailed, it is shocking that the Vietnamese were able to build such a vast network of tunnels. There were places to watch movies, bedrooms, kitchens with smoke holes dug 100 feet away to avoid bombs being dropped on the kitchen, exit slides into streams for bathing, and hundreds of miles of tunnels to crawl through from room to room. Soldiers would fire their guns out of fake ant hills that had tiny openings at the base for the barrel of their guns (see left).

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VIDEOS

(below) Documentary about two tunnel systems and a natural cave used as a military base
Vietnam Cu Chi Tunnels Underground Cities of the World Full Documentary
(below) Video about the lives of the Vietcong
Vietnam War Documentary: Inside the Viet Cong - Tactics, Weapons, Tunnels, Uniform
(below) Video about the Tunnel Rats (US soldiers who were tasked with finding and infiltrating the Vietcong's tunnels), and interviews former Tunnel Rats. (More of the US viewpoint of the war.)
Viet Nam - Tunnel Rats

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TOURISM IN THE TUNNELS



At least 45,000 Vietnamese men and women are said to have died defending the Cu Chi tunnels over the course of the Vietnam War. In the years following the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnamese government preserved the Cu Chi tunnels and included them in a network of war memorial parks around the country.Visitors to Vietnam can now crawl through some of the safer areas of the tunnels, view command centers and booby traps, fire an AK-47 rifle on a firing range and even eat a meal featuring typical foods that soldiers living in the tunnels would have eaten.

(below) Watch:

2:20 to 3:35---traps

6:20 to 8:03---tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels Part 2 of 2
(below) Hidden entrance to the tunnels
Big image

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MY REACTION

Now I understand just how the Vietcong could have such a great offensive against US soldiers. The tunnels are NOT just tunnels, they are architectural masterpieces. The Vietcong use their resources and environment to the utmost extent. They know their surroundings and took full advantage of that fact. It was interesting to find out that the tunnels began when Vietnam was under French control and had since expanded over a span of 20 or so years. As if the idea of digging tunnels isn't enough, the workers would have to work in the fields at day, then dig tunnels at night and HIDE the dirt they dug up! They included gutters to rid the tunnels of water when they flooded. They built the tunnels four stories deep out of dense ground so that the bombs dropped from planes or the tanks rolling over the tunnels wouldn't collapse the tunnels. They purposely made the entrances to the tunnels small because the Vietnamese were smaller than Americans so the Americans would have trouble getting in the tunnels even when they found them. They also built FAKE entrances that would detonate if opened from the outside. The design is brilliant and well-disguised.


I can't even begin to imagine living down in the tunnels for an hour, much less six years as some villagers did when their town was being bombarded by bombs. I would be claustrophobic and be freaked out by the amount of snakes, scorpions, and bats living down there with me in the darkness.

I also can't possibly imagine the amount of courage (or insanity) required by the Tunnel Rats to voluntarily descend into the tunnels. Don't even get me started on combat--I mean, how do you even properly fight in tunnels that small? Some of those traps make my head hurt just LOOKING at them. One wrong step and your foot is spiked through and your leg has to be amputated or you just die slow from infection if the spike was covered with feces. Ow. ...I also see now the effect of the 'living-room war' after I watched so many VIDEOS. People can lie, but real footage can't lie.


The whole war in general is heartbreaking. There's so much controversy in it--I see that now. You want to be loyal to your country and fight, but what if you don't believe in what they want you to fight for? I hadn't really thought about the controversial aspects of the war until I watched the Tunnel Rats video...and THEN watched the Vietcong documentary. Now I can see the motivation for BOTH sides of the war.