Thesis-Booby Traps used in the Vietnam War

Report
Jacob Guzdek




Did booby traps contribute to the war effeort
for the VC?
Yes, I believe they helped a lot as the VC used
booby traps as a big advantage over the US in
Vietnam
I believe that booby traps helped the VC “win”
the war over the US
The US did not know the terrain of the
Vietnam forests so the VC hid these traps well
and killed many American soldiers


U.S. troops were moving fast, so I knew they did not
have any idea the booby traps were there. Suddenly I
heard some booby traps explode. They were reckless
and careful when they moved which resulted in more
booby trap deaths.
(Ewell, Julian. SHARPENING THE COMBAT EDGE.
1976)



“They didn't always kill…, but they were
always physical and psychological
disablers…”
(Sarlin, Ray. One Step from My Grave! . 2003.)
This quote is saying that even though the
booby traps did not always kill the soldiers
they infected them with diseases or just
injured them enough to keep them out of
battle. This hurt the soldiers moral because
they weren’t able to fight.

This graph describes
the number of booby
trap incident relevant
to the time of day and
if they were
neutralized or if their
were casualties. You
can see how many
booby traps incidents
occurred everyday.


U.S. troops were staying too close together during
movement. U.S. troops move single file, too close
together, causing many booby trap casualties. The
soldiers should stay together but more spread out to
prevent these casualties.
(Ewell, Julian. SHARPENING THE COMBAT EDGE.
1976)



“The effect mines had on fighting spirit was
devastating.”
(Sarlin, Ray. One Step from My Grave! . 2003.)
This was very true because the soldiers
couldn’t really defend themselves from
mines. Just not knowing where they could be
left an effect on the soldiers because they
were so focused on mines they weren’t
focused on actual fighting.










METHOD OF DETECTION OF ENEMY
MINES AND BOOBY TRAPS
Method, number, percent
Visual, 503, 66.4
Detonation, 221, 29.2
Mine Detector, 13, 1.7
VC Mine Marker, 4, 0.5
Scout Dog, 4, 0.5
Informant, 3, 0.4
Other, 10, 1.3
Total, 758, 100.0

This shows all the ways
that the US detected
mines and booby traps
and how they stopped
them. But, still over
240,00 soldiers died
from land mines and
booby traps.


When rice planting time came around at the beginning of the wet season
the enemy did not rig booby traps in the rice paddies so as to avoid
casualties among the farmers tending to their livelihood. In a short period
of time our booby trap neutralization rate increased from less than 50
percent to over 70 percent. Not only did we increase the percentage of
mines and booby traps detected without detonation, but by emphasizing
proper ground formations we were able to reduce the number of casualties
per detonation, thereby protecting our most important asset-the soldier.
(Sarlin, Ray. One Step from My Grave! . 2003.)



“Mines clobber morale because they are
unseen, and there's no way to fight back.“
(Sarlin, Ray. One Step from My Grave! . 2003.)
This id true because no one knew when they
could step on one and you were defenseless
because when you least expect it, you will set
one off.












LOCATION OF ENEMY DEVICES
Location, Number, Percent
Jungle, 274, 36.1
Trail, 154, 20.3
Rice Paddy Dike, 101, 13.3
Canal or Stream Bank, 83, 11.0
Rice Paddy, 71, 9.4
Road, 35, 4.6
Open Field, 21, 2.8
Intersection of 2, 3, 4, or 6, 10, 1.3
Structure, 9, 1.2
Total, 758, 100.0

This chart shows the
location of booby traps
found by US troops. This
shows again that the booby
traps could be anywhere
and because the American
soldiers did not know the
terrain, they were at risk at
all times.


Anti-personnel mines are intended to kill or wound personnel with shrapnel
or blast. In fact, wounding is often the goal, because it takes more men out
of combat to look after the victim. There are numerous varieties and they
are designed to operate on the lowest pressures. There were three main
types of fragmenting AP mines used in Vietnam, Bouncing Betty,
Claymore and Soviet POMZ-2 mine. The VC put their own feces on punji
sticks just to infect the soldier who stepped on them.
(Ewell, Julian. SHARPENING THE COMBAT EDGE.
1976)




"Once you make a false step, a hundred
lifetimes cannot redeem it.“
(Sarlin, Ray. One Step from My Grave! . 2003.)
This quote represents the mines and booby
traps in the forests. One wrong step by any
member in the company and the whole
company is dead or injured.










TYPE Of FIRING DEVICE
Type Number Percent
Tripwire, 549, 72.4
Pressure, 124, 16.3
Unknown, 27, 3.6
Cmd Electric, 24, 3.2
Press/Electric ,8 ,1.1
Cmd Pull, 1, 0.1
Other, 25, 3.3
Total, 758, 100.0

This is the distribution
of how the booby traps
were set off. This
shows how many
different ways the VC
set off the traps and
this was to their
advantage because
they kept the American
soldiers guessing.



General Statistics–
Vietnam Casualties
11% of deaths and 15%
of wounds were caused
by booby traps and
mines
2% of wounds were
caused by punji stakes

I believe this
represents just how
much booby traps and
mines contributed to
the war effort for the
VC.

Improvised mines or boobytraps are normally made
from any materials available
at the time. They might
consist of regular munitions
like grenades, unexploded
artillery rounds or airdropped bombs rigged with a
trip wire, pressure switch,
command detonator or other
means. Alternatively, they
could be non-explosive, like
a punji pit or swinging spiked
log.

This again shows the
many different traps
used by the VC.



Ewell, Julien. "Sharpening the combat edge."
/www.history.army.mil. Department of the army, n.d. Web. 10
Jun 2012.
<http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/Sharpen/inde
x.htm>.
Sarlin, Ray. "One step from my grave." www.ichiban1.org.
N.p., 2003. Web. 10 Jun 2012.
<http://www.ichiban1.org/html/stories/story_49.htm>.
"Vietnam war weapons." www.vietnamwar.net. N.p., n.d.
Web. 10 Jun 2012.
<http://www.vietnamwar.net/VWweapons.htm>.

similar documents