Bui Thi Tron
“For three years I escorted the soldiers from the north to the south and the wounded from south to north. My unit was based in the jungle, one day’s walk from Da Nang, south of the DMZ. We carried the wounded on litters from base to base in the jungle. It took the whole day. We left in the morning from our base and arrived at another in the late afternoon. A soldier went ahead to clear a trail for us with a machete. Ten of us carried five soldiers. They were seriously wounded-some were missing limbs.
It was hard for women. At first we marched south from Thai Binh province to the south, always on foot, through the jungle along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We would rest every ten days and take a shower every ten days. For women to go that long without a shower after walking in the jungle, you can imagine how hard that was. We had to carry everything-food, weapons-the same as the men. At that time I weighed 50 kgs.
Many women volunteered during the war. I thought everyone should defend our country. It was hard work and also dangerous but I felt happy to do it. Many times we were in the area where B-52’s were bombing and sometimes we were surrounded by American soldiers. Once, in 1972, our unit was carrying wounded soldiers through the jungle in Quang Binh province when B-52 bombers came in and we had to move fast, carrying wounded and our weapons. That night soldiers from our unit, some of them women, were wounded, so they stayed behind until they could be retrieved.
I was near the airport at Da Nang when the city was liberated on March 29, 1975. I went into Da Nang to join in the celebration on April 1. Everyone was delighted-I can’t describe how happy we were. The people of Da Nang greeted us and were very happy. The women wore ao dai, traditional Vietnamese clothing. They waved flags and threw flowers. We knew the war would soon be over.
The jungle we operated in was sprayed often with Agent Orange. The trees lost their leaves and the people from that area told us it was because the water was contaminated by dioxin. Now my health is poor. My stomach is not so good and I have pain in my backside and up and down my legs, It started more than ten years ago.
The war has already passed and we try to rebuild our country but still the war victims of Agent Orange have problems up to the third generation of the veterans: our children and grandchildren. Please tell the American people about the victims here who are still suffering.”