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Ben Tuong remain – a model strategic hamlet

Update: 11-01-2021 | 10:29:17

In the process of invading our country, the US Army implemented many measures and policies to suppress and divide our people in order to destroy the revolutionary forces. For that purpose, "new type strategic hamlets" were set up in many places to gather people in one place for easy management. "Ben Tuong model strategic hamlet" in Lai Hung commune, Bau Bang district was one of such typical hamlets.

Ben Tuong model strategic hamlet is now only presented by a stele introducing the place

A test of strategic hamlet

According to local people, in the past, the place was a rather unspoiled land with dense trees. On the land was a small stream flowing all year round, offering cool water to many elephants in the forest on frequent visit for water and rest. Therefore, local people used to call this place Ben Voi or Ben Tuong (the station for elephants) as today.

About 5km from the district center, the strategic hamlet of Ben Tuong is located on a fairly flat and spacious land. The road to the monument today is very convenient. From the district center and follow National Highway 13 downward to Ben Cat town, take a turn into Lai Hung B Primary School and head straight for about 2km to the area of the historical model strategic hamlet of Ben Tuong.

In history stories about the tradition of revolutionary struggle of the heroic land of Bau Bang, it is impossible not to mention "Ben Tuong model strategic hamlet". Huynh Thanh Hung, deputy head of the Bau Bang district's Culture and Information Division, said that the Ben Tuong model strategic hamlet was established by the US-puppet state in 1962 to implement the policy of accruing people to establish the hamlet they created in South East battlefield at that time. The total circumference of the strategic hamlet was about 8km long, surrounded by a dense barbed wire fence system. From the beginning, the enemy was determined to make the place a model pilot site for the entire Southeast.

Their purpose when setting up strategic hamlets was to round up our people to grip and tightly control and "drain the water to catch fish". Therefore, they arranged a puppet main regiment and six companies of security, civil defense, civil servants and 70 joint heads to manage all activities related to the strategic hamlet. On average, there was one-on-one monitor during day and night. Their purpose was to cut off the relationship between the people and the revolutionary at all costs and destroy the revolutionary force at the time.

According to local history, from March 1962, during the ‘rising Sun’ campaign, the enemy gathered people from Lai Hung commune and a part of the people of Chanh Phu Hoa commune of about 3,500 people to the strategic hamlet of Ben Tuong. They structured the Ben Tuong strategic hamlet in the style of a garrison: Around the strategic hamlet, they forced the people to bamboo fences (then replaced by iron fence and barbed wire); 3 surrounding trenches (each of trench was 2.5 meters wide and 2 meters deep) and the dug dirt was built into three rising dikes. Three deep trenches, three high interwoven dikes, deep trenches and on the dike they lined up dense minefields, with bunker and observatory system for 12.7 mm guns and headlights. Inside the strategic hamlet, there were a helipad, a military camp, an arsenal of weapons, and a warehouse for the people's rice. In strategic hamlets, they divided the population into zones and cells with the clamping apparatus from hamlet down to the head of the cells, to each joint household. The forces supporting the communal apparatus had civil defense platoons, security companies, and the enemy also used three main battalions with tanks ready to support when needed.

The US - Diem regime chose Ben Tuong as the place to test their "strategic hamlets". In the past, when the enemy was gathering people and zoning up the hamlet, the strategic hamlet of Ben Tuong had an area of nearly 1 square meter with a length of 1km and a width of more than 0.8km. When the enemy controlled them, they opened four gates divided into four corners: the main gate was in the north; Ong Khuong gate was in the east; Cay Me gate was in the south; and Ben Tra Di gate was in the west. People went in and out mainly at the main gate every day.

The image of Ben Tuong strategic hamlet in the past (the photo is supplied by Division of Culture and Information)

The movements of destroying strategic hamlets

According to local history, the destruction of Ben Tuong strategic hamlet was carried out by three attacks: grassroots cadres actively grasped the people and promoted mass mobilization of internal and external attacks, using wives and children to fight, using the family of soldiers to mobilize to defect and to hit the enemy soldiers mentally and emotionally at the base. Soldiers and guerrillas aimed to reduce enemy’s force while keeping the puppet main force and punishing the villains and oligarchs. In the first raid on August 9, 1964, more than 1,000 people in the hamlet simultaneously protested and demanded to return to their old hometown to do business. In the middle of September 1964, we continued to attack in phase 2; the masses excitedly fought, burn and destroy the whole concentrated village. After 92 days and nights fighting against the enemy, 3,000 people were liberated.

Beating the right gripping objects and destroying the right evil objects in the strategic hamlet was to hit the enemy's dangerous place as the "backbone" of the strategic hamlet. By such way of fighting, we have created internal conflicts and caused mutual distrust to take positions. At the same time, the military mobilization was emphasized to make the puppet government know the preeminent regime of the revolution and see the cramming of reactionary thoughts among the puppet soldiers, leading to anti-war soldiers and army desertion. This was the most effective way to fight the enemy, causing great losses but not death, and had a lasting political effect on the revolution.

Living in the grip of the enemy, upholding a spirit of patriotism and passionate love for the homeland, under the leadership of the Party and the people of Ben Tuong hamlet cooperated with the local forces to break up the enemy's model strategic village of Ben Tuong in Bau Bang district and returned to the homeland. It can be said that breaking Ben Tuong hamlet was to destroy a new type of strategy that the US set up to impose in the South in order to create impetus for the resistance war across the battlefields of the South of Vietnam. Therefore, the demolition of Ben Tuong strategic hamlet had an important significance by contributing to the complete destruction of the US-puppet strategy of "Special War".

For important historical meanings, on September 14, 2012, Binh Duong provincial People's Committee issued a decision to recognize the Ben Tuong strategic hamlet as a provincial landmark.

Reported by Cam Ly – Translated by Vi Bao

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