THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Tuesday, October 3, 1972~
Pdge Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Our destination was Nam Dinh
City and the Phat Diem Cathed-
ral, both severely bombed, and
showplaces of the destructive
power of the American air cam-
paign.' Jane Fonda and Ramsey
Clark had been there. Now it
was the turn of the three pilots
just. released from a prisoner-
4f1war camp -- Navy Lts. Mark
Gartley and Norris Charles, and
Air Force Major Edward.Elias-
But long before we reached
our destination we were shaking
our heads in wonder, not at the
destructive power of the bombs
from the sky but at the survival
power of the people on the
The pilots' previous view of
North'Vietnamfrom the kies
above, For' years I had watched
from the vantage point of South'
No here on the ground as we"
rolled alongthe narrow highways
in the dark hours before dawn,
the cliches came true.
Here was the "ant power" that
Pentagon experts theorized lay
behind fanoi's ability to keep
supplies and men moving to the
southern war front.'Where bombs
had scored. direct hits on rail-
way cars on the tracks parallel-
ling the road, dark shapes ham-
mered at twisted wreckage,
while other figures -carried ma-
terial and dumped it into the
As dawn came and we passed
through the railroad junction of
severely bombed Phu Le, we saw'
that the dark shapes were wo-
men and they weren't even using
buckets; they were carrying mud
in their bare hands to fill the
craters in, and they seemed to
be enjoying it.
When our old Russian Volga se-
dan bogged down at one point,
the Women swarmed out of the
mud and gathered around us,
laughing and gesticulating.
This "ant power" was every-
where. Whereas in South Viet-
bam the war has denuded the
countryside of population and
sent people scrrying into the
-cities, in the North it is the re-
verse and they swarmed on the
Walking or riding bicycles
along lonely roads in South Viet-
nam at night can mean death
or capture. But in the North,
nighttime is the logical time to
travel for the faint-hearted, or
for the supply convoys, because
it affords protection from the
planes that fly above.
The key to the use of the night
is simply that there are no guer-
rillas to harass the conveys or
blow up the supplies. In North
Vietnam the war is only from
That is why I observed no
barbed wire anywhere, no bar-
ricaded milita outposts or for-
tified bunkers. Except for when
the planes came over, the North
Vietnamese countryside looked
positively bucolic. But few things
are ever what they seem, and
Elias, who piloted a reconnais-
sance plane before he was shot
down five months ago, enlighten-.
"See those grave mounds?"
Elias asked as we waited under
the trees for a ferry to cross a
river where a bridge had been
destroyed. About 100 yards away,
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buffalo grazed quietly around
the heaps of earth.
"They're antiaircraft pits with
the muzzles down," Elias said.
"Let a plane come over and
they'll stick up their snoots and
blast away. And those things are
difficult to spot in pictures. It
would take a very expert and
very lucky PI photo interpreter
to see them."
As we sped into the rising sun,
Elias's head was twisting to left
and right. "See that flak site?
They're 85s." Or he would say,
"There's another one, half a
dozen .51-calibers." To me they
looked like banana trees.
dumped by trains and would soon
be moved to where the railway
lines were usable again.
In the evenings as the trucks
began to move south loaded with
supplies, the whole operation re-
minded me of a huge glacier
forcing itself slowly but surely
down a mountain valley.
Reflecting 'on -the scene one
evening at a rest house in Ninh
Binh province, Gartley said, "I
used to fly over this place and it
seemed uninhabited. But look, it
is teeming with life."
Gartley later said, "All the
pilots really have for targets are
the cities, the bridges and the
enormous efforts" to beat the
American blockade of the ports.
"We have spirit and courage.
We have used many measures
and we can continue our trans-
portation to the south. These
methods cannot be calculated by
an electronic computer."
I was wondering how a com-
puter could determine the num-
ber of handfuls of mud required
to fill a bomb crater, or the man-
power needed to load and un-
load supplies that are leapfrog-
ged from train to train across
the bombed portions of track
each night on the way south.
But all those bombs raining on
"I was wondering how a computer c o u 1 d determine the number of '
handfuls .mud required to fill a bomb crater, or the manpower need-
ed to load and unload supplies that are leapfrogged from train to train
across the bom bed out portions of track each night on the way south."
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and rocked across filled-in bomb
craters and careened by the am-
munition boxes stacked like
cordwood along the roadside, I
got the feeling that the world
of the cities and the world of the
countryside supply routes were
We were given no information
about where these supplies origi-
nated, but we presumed they
came down the highways from
China to thetnorth. I got the im-
pression that as long as those
supplies were pumped down
through the arteries of North
Vietnam the war would go on
even if the cities were destroyed.
And the North Vietnamese can
rationalize anything. Standing
on one of the broad, tree-lined
thoroughfares in the Hanoi that
the French took so much pride
in building, one of my guide- in-
terpreters commented, "This is
just a remnant of colonialism,
anyway. If it is destroyed we will
build a new, better city. Our
Editor's Note: AP special corres-
pondent Peter Arnett has been cover-
ing the war in Indochina for eight
years. He recently went into North
Vietnam for the first time and
toured the country south of Hanoi
with the three recently released U.S.
prisoners of war. The following is an
account of his experience.
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Monday 4 p.m. & 6:45 p.m.
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Steve Mizerak, Jr.
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free billiard instruction
"Far this trip, one must fasten
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Bunuel s h r e d s Spanish
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shocking throughout and
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Dir. Luis Bunuel, 1961
The discovery of the flak sites
and the industrious people were
possibly predictable e n o u g h.
Enough American planes get shot
down each week to adequately
suggest the extent of the anti-
aircraft fire. And "people pow-
er" has long been known as
North Vietnam's most important
What was mindbending to the
freed pilots was the extent of
North Vietnam's visible supply
chain. From the time we left the
outskirts of Hanoi at 4 a.m. one
morning to our return at 8 p.m.
the next niglt we constantly en-
countered vehicle convoys, rows
of stacked ammunition alongside
the roadsides a n d gasoline
drums. They were stretched out
and other foreign visitors in Ha-
along the 180 miles we drove,
noi at the time attested they saw
similar s c e n e s on different
During daylight the vehicles
were casually parked under the
inevitable line of trees at road-
side. On some long, straight
stretches of highway we counted
as manry as 40 trucks.
They seemed extremely vul-
nerable, but Charles commented,
"We could never see those things
from the air. And the moment
someone comes down to get a
better look at them - blam,
This simple roadside cover hid
ammunition caches upto 1,000
cases in size, aceording to my
fast counts from the moving au-
tomobile. Particularly noticeable
were concentrations of supplies
at bombed-out railway crossings.
The pilots figured these had been
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An irreverent spoof of doctors &
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rainways. Yet the North Vietna-
mese move out from the cities
and use these back roads."
Elias said, "It is technology
against ideology. I just wonder
how far technology can go be-
causethe Vietnamese habitually
beat it." He mentioned that Ha-
noi has found a partial answer to
the threat of the laser-guided
"smart" bombs that can zero in
accurately on targets.
"The North Vietnamese put up
smoke around the target. If you
don't see it you can't hit it,"
The North Vietnamese glorify
in their ability to outwit the U.S.
"You have to fight this war
with intelligence, not with com-
puters," Prime Minister Pham
Van Dong" told the antiwar acti-
vists who went to Hanoi to pick
up the released pilots. "The
computers m e r e 1 y multiply
man's stupidities thousands of
times," he said, rocking for-
ward in his chair with a know-
The editor of the Communist
party newspaper Nhan Dan told
the activists that "we have made
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North Vietnam are dropping
somewhere, and in interviews
with top officials I got the im-
pression that severe damage is
"Whole cities have been de-
stroyed. Hospitals, schools, chur-
ches have been destroyed. There
have been so many victims,"
said Premier Dong, when the an-
tiwar activists asked if the Amer-
ican people could help contribute
"I fear that no city will, be left
intact in the North if President
Nixon is re-elected. Nixon's war
is ten times more barbarous that
his predecessor's," the editor
But as our old sedan bucked
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