In recent years, the search and collection of the remains of soldiers who laid down their lives in Laos has become increasingly challenging since local terrains have changed significantly due to time and weather; troops’ burial places are scattered; road condition is poor; and sources of information about the fallen and their burial locations are limited. 

Despite difficulties, the team, with the determination to find all the remains of the fallen, has strived and applied different methods to complete the mission. Notably, the unit has advised the Special Working Committees of Xiangkhouang, Vientiane, and Xaysomboun provinces to assign missions to district-level units and discuss measures to foster coordination in surveying, searching, and collecting martyrs’ remains. In addition, Laos’ localities, state- and private-businesses, and individuals have been mobilized to contribute information and join the search and collection efforts. The Vietnamese martyrs’ remains search and collection team has received the enthusiastic and effective support from the Lao people.

Despite difficulties, members of the team try their best to complete assigned missions.

Non-commissioned Lieutenant Colonel Tran Dinh Bang, a member of the martyrs’ remains search and collection team of the Nghe An provincial Military Command, recalled that with good command in the Lao language, he talked with a 70-year old man and knew about the burial locations of Vietnamese soldiers. Due to the rugged terrain, it took seven hours for the team to reach the location. After nine-day efforts, the team found six sets of remains of  Vietnamese soldiers.

To enhance the effectiveness of the work, the unit has applied “four togethers” (eat together, stay together, work together, speak Lao together) to learn more about local customs and political situation. In the 2023-2024 dry season, the unit has provided free health examination and medicines for more than 652 people, presented 400kg of dry provisions and 725 sets of clothes, and contributed 368 working days to assist locals. Various culture and sports exchanges with local agencies and units have been held.

The above-mentioned practical activities have contributed to local socio-economic development, thus raising local residents’ living standards, ensuring political security in the area, and strengthening the solidarity and friendship between Vietnam and Laos in general and between Nghe An province and Xiangkhouang, Vientiane, and Xaysomboun provinces in particular. They have also helped enhance the trust of the armed forces and people of Lao localities in the Vietnamese personnel, thus encouraging them to support the Vietnamese side in carrying out the mission. 

According to Head of the Martyrs’ Remains Search and Collection Team of the Nghe An provincial Military Command Colonel Che Ngoc Ha, members of the team have received active support from the Lao side during their task implementation. In particular, special working committees and relevant agencies of Laos’ localities have given timely direction, assigned missions to villages, and encouraged village patriarchs, heads of villages, and reputable people to assist the Vietnamese personnel to fulfill missions.

Apart from their regular mission, troops have actively supported locals.

Thanks to that, during the 2023-2024 dry season, the martyrs’ remains search and collection team of the provincial Military Command of Nghe An conducted surveys, searched, and collected a total of 87 sets of remains of fallen soldiers who laid down their lives in Laos while performing international duties.

Translated by Tran Hoai