|War Veteran Dang Ha Thuy studies documents related to the fight in Xuan Son hill, Hoai An district, Binh Dinh province in 1966 (Photo: VOV)
Thuy joined the army and fought on the battlefield of Kim Son valley, Binh Dinh province in the 1960s. Many of his brothers in arms were killed during the war, many during a battle against American troops at Xuan Son hill in December, 1966.
In 2005, after his retirement, Thuy began spending most of his time searching for the remains of his fellow soldiers.
In 2018, through Facebook, Thuy got to know architect Nguyen Xuan Thang, who had invited American war veterans to Vietnam and had managed to find a mass grave with the remains of 153 martyrs near Bien Hoa airport in the southern region of Vietnam. With Thang’s help, Thuy asked some of the American veterans for information about war martyrs killed at Xuan Son hill. Thuy and the Binh Dinh provincial Military Command made many fact-finding tours to search likely areas but found little.
Thuy kept contacting American veterans via email, Facebook, and other channels. In late 2021, war veteran Bob March, a former captain with the First Air Cavalry Division, who fought at Xuan Son hill, sent Thuy written records and maps showing the locations of several graves of war martyrs. Thuy translated the documents from English into Vietnamese and forwarded them to the Binh Dinh provincial Military Command.
With the information provided by Thuy, in March 2022, the Military Command managed to find the remains of 60 war martyrs. Thuy recalled: “On the second day of searching, we found the first tracks. I joined the search team and gave them my consultation.”
Thuy has been at Xuan Son hill for four months monitoring and directing the search team. Major Pham Thanh Tan, head of the Policy Department of the Binh Dinh provincial Military Command, said: “It took a long time to dig up soil with power-shovels looking for traces. With the information provided by Thuy, we narrowed down the area. We intend to find the remains of every martyr who is buried in this area.”
|The remains of 60 martyrs who laid down their lives at Xuan Son hill were recovered and brought to a local cemetery (Photo: VOV)
Xuan Son is a low hill bordering a mountain and adjacent to 2 rivers. Changes to the terrain have made the search effort more difficult. The search area has been expanded from 1.2 to nearly 3 hectares. Colonel Nguyen Xuan Son, deputy political commissar of the Binh Dinh provincial Military Command, said Thuy has contacted 6 American war veterans who will return to Xuan Son hill this month to help with the search. Son said: “Despite his age, veteran Thuy is still dedicated to finding the remains of his comrades to show his gratitude to them.”
In mid April, the remains of 60 martyrs who laid down their lives at Xuan Son hill were recovered and brought to a local cemetery.