Rotor blade of a CH-47 hit by mortar round while on ground at An Khe Airfield, ca. 1967
Above: B-52 strike crater, scan from one of Charlie’s prints that lacks a negative.
Below: B-52 strikes seen from the air, negative scan.
Everyone has heard the term “carpet bombing.” Many of us heard the term thrown around in the 80’s and 90’s during various conflicts the United States was involved in.
But it’s hard to imagine what carpet bombing actually is. The above image is the result of carpet bombing.
Charlie recalls that, at times when his unit was in the field, they would receive word that B-52s were incoming, to bomb a section of land. The unit was ordered to remain—at the very least—two thousand yards from the strike zone. According to Charlie, they wouldn’t even see the planes or the bombs, but suddenly, the ground would rumble and the clouds from explosions would fill the horizon. The earth shook and the deafening blasts resonated through the air.
The goal of carpet bombing was to decimate the Viet Cong positions and tunnel networks. Clearly, when viewed from the air, the technique worked. Charlie has images of pock-marked landscapes, with many of the strike craters filled with water, forming small ponds that to this day dot the Vietnam landscape.
Charlie’s photos are, as he said, “of the life side of the war, not the death side of it.” Still, it is hard to see photos like these and not think about the horrific way that these extremely powerful weapons were used, in an almost careless or random fashion. The effects of these and other terrible weapons used during the Vietnam War last until this day.
HUE, SOUTH VIETNAM: A member of the U.S. 9th Cavalry takes no chances while on patrol in the Hue area. There could be a Viet Cong guerrilla in the haystack. Just in case, he uses his bayonet.
UPI PHOTO BY STEVE VAN METER 3/24/66