Repatriation of soldiers’ remains in Dong Nai province

(VOV) - The war ended 4 decades ago but the parents, wives, children, and brothers of more than 500,000 martyrs still anguish because their relatives’ remains haven’t returned home.

The search for martyrs’ remains began in May, 2012. As time went by, identifying location where soldiers were buried became more and more difficult.

Then came reports that approximately 100 soldiers were buried in two mass graves, one bigger than the other. The search area was expanded to dozens of hectares. Despite being hampered by vague information about the location, rudimentary excavation equipment and severe weather, the searchers didn’t get discouraged. After a year in the blazing heat of the dry season and the dampness of the rainy season, Dong Nai province’s search and repatriation team found the mass grave of 20 martyrs.

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Pham Thi Kim Hue, deputy head of the science and education section of the provincial radio and television station, who accompanied the search team recalled "Work sometimes was interrupted, especially in the rainy season. But the local government’s determination and encouragement helped us to finally find the first mass grave after nearly 2 years. It has been unearthed now.”

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The search for the remains of soldiers who died in Vuon Dieu (Cashew Garden) was expanded to an area of more than 20 hectares. The battle of Cashew Garden was one of the first battles of the general offensive and uprising that take place in the spring of 1968 in the hollow of Bau Nau hamlet in Phuoc Tho, which is now Long Tho commune, Nhon Trach district. After 14 months of searching, the team discovered a second mass grave. 

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Colonel Duong Hoa Hiep, political commissar of the provincial military headquarters, said “it was a heartening outcome for the people, the army, Party Committees, and administrations at all levels of Dong Nai province. It could not have been achieved without the support of the provincial authorities, military headquarters, businesses, and local households who have made their land available to the search team.”

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Finding and repatriating the remains of the soldiers who died in the battle of Vuon Dieu was a tough journey, which sometimes drove everyone to the brink of despair. But the search went on, driven by feelings of profound respect and gratitude for those who sacrificed their lives for the nation.