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 Kenny's trip back to Laos in 2008....
  Streetcar 304 and Nail 69 made a return visit to the Streetcar 304 mission target area in Laos in late November '08 and we returned safely this time but the trip was not without a scary incident.
 
 More photos below... 
 
Once in the target area, we noted that a very unfriendly Swiss funded "Laotian Bomb Demolition Team" was still clearing the area of live "dud" bombs and on our second day of three visits to the area---as we were walking around looking for the final rescue pick-up point---that team exploded a 500 pound bomb not too far from our location.  The explosion echoed around the valley just like my memory of many other ones forty years ago.... And, that was a vivid reminder of the danger we faced in trying to retrace my evasion trails.
 
   The trip was quite an adventure....We saw many, many small to massive bomb craters and, to be honest, it was a little scary to walk around the same area that I once evaded in because we feared that we would step on a leftover CBU.  But... we sucked it up and did so anyway. We walked over the same trails that I had once evaded enemy troops along and we got to mingle with the local villagers who live in the same area today---still very isolated from the rest of the world.  And, sadly, most of the animals and birds have been killed for food.... 
  The best news....We found my A-7 crash site and actually dug up a few small pieces and brought them home with us.  Most of the plane had been salvaged by others because the villagers use every piece they can find in very innovative ways and I thought for sure that we would be blown up before we finally started to find small pieces of the plane in the hole we were digging in.  But, I retreived enough parts to satisfy me....
 
   In the photo, I'm standing next to the oldest guy in the village about one mile fron the area where I evaded and I'm still not sure what he thought of me since we couldn't communicate.  But, I don't believe the kids in the village had ever seen an American---the way they reacted.  They appeared very tenative at first but finally eased closer to me but I'm not sure that I would have been friendly to me either if I had been in their shoes....
 
   All in all though....A shit-hot adventure....
 
Kenny (Streetcar 304)... talking to the vendors at a Laotian roadside
lunch stand on the way to the target area.  The roasted bananas, over fire, looked good.

Our team encountered this "Bomb Demolition Team" in the process
of finding and detonating live bombs near the target area.  That made me
wonder if I would survive my second time on the ground in Laos....See the large metal detector in one guys hand?  The team leader phoned the local police and soon thereafter we were stopped by one.  He did a passport check...told us to leave the area... but that evening we were able to get his order rescended and we were back in the same area again the next day.

A tree like the one 304 hid in during the second afternoon---just prior
to the failed rescue attempt before darkness.
 
 
The final rescue point is at the tree---mid-way up the ridge in the center
of the photo--- and on the flat spot of the ridge just to the left of the tall
tree in the foreground. A family now lives in the hooch on the left side of
the photo.
 
This is the way "dawn" appeared in Tchepone for Streetcar 304
 
In the center is the possible "monkey tree" but of course it has grown
some since then.  And, while I was hiding there, the rice would have been waist high---making it look like an open field to me ---and the enemy
squad was walking toward the tree from our view point in this photo. 
 
I'm standing on the site where we found my plane's wreckage and the
guy is the Laotian who farms that area now.  We're not sure if he liked us....
 
I'm pointing across the Xe Banghian river at the spot where my target,
a barge, was tied up to the shoreline.
 
A pig---just like the one in the Streetcar book story....
 
My teammates on this wild adventure....l-r....Nail 69 (Pete Lappin)....
our driver, Mr. Hec....Pete Staaf (an Army Mohawk "Navigator" in Vietnam)....Kenny (Streetcar 304).... Ryan Bendixen, (ex-Army grunt).... and, in front, Doc Johnson, (former Jolly Green PJ) who also survived a shootdown. The Xe Banghian river bridge behind us is on Route 9 and was destroyed in the war, then rebuilt.  My target was three miles downstream....
 
This is the way it looked when I was hiding next to the monkey tree---
looking across the open field as the 10 man enemy squad approached
on day two---and when the leopard approached me.
 
This "dead" Jolly is inside a Laotian war memorial "Victory Park" in a
town near Tchepone.
 
In the book, the Jollys always orbited at the high "Rooster Tail" mountain
that I am pointing toward.  For you guys who flew there, this is the way
Route 9 looks today but it is full of potholes.
 
 
The village close to the target....Notice how they make use of left over
bomb dud shells as vegetable pots.
 
 
Village kids near the target area....
 
 
Another view of the village close to the target.