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By Richard L. Stevens

Undertaking at the Ho Chi Minh path: Nature, delusion, and battle in Viet Nam

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Additional resources for Mission on the Ho Chi Minh trail: nature, myth, and war in Viet Nam

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Standing tall on the trail, Texan Willett draws his big Bowie knife, points it down toward the headquarters, takes off his camouflage cowboy hat, grabs himself by the hair, grins horribly, and slowly draws the knife across his black-smudged throat. " He puts an imaginary B-40 on his shoulder, making sure that Willett gets it.

I have to Page 38 hear them, at least. I can't go back on just Viêt's word. I have to get close. Down the trail I go slowly walking. Suddenly I hear chopping. Slow, rhythmical, lazy chopping. In the tangled tree world a few meters ahead the VC are chopping wood. And either they are in no hurry to fell that tree, or it is a signal. Hunger for the Trail turns to desire for self-preservation. I spin around and quickly go up the trail, M-16 now pointing the other way. Around the bend, I see a strange sight: Viêt and Willett are playing charades.

I tell one of the ralliers to take him to the barracks to sleep. I watch him go, excitement leaping inside me in conflict with fears that he'll run away in the night or blow the place up, taking my chance for the Trail with him. In the morning I arrive at the Chiêu Hôi center early. Viêt comes right away with what looks like a pirate treasure map. " I feel on fire to go out there and follow that mysterious, curving line. Over the next several days Viêt and I talk long about the Trail, the bases, the men and the women there.

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