Between 1964 and 1973, the United States conducted a "secret" war, dropping over two million tons of bombs on the mountains and jungles of Laos. Many of these bombs - especially a newly developed weapon called a "cluster bomb" - failed to explode when they hit the ground, leaving the landscape littered with millions of unexploded bombs, as dangerous today as when they fell from the sky three decades ago.
Dubbed "bombies" by Laotian villagers, these eye-catching but deadly orbs, as brightly colored as exotic fruit, are still found by children playing in shallow dirt, in the clefts of bamboo branches, or in the furrows of fields where farmers still till the soil by striking the earth with a hoe.
In 1964, as the Vietnam War was intensifying, the United States attempted to staunch the flow of North Vietnamese people and supplies moving along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which detoured through Laos before heading into South Vietnam. Laotian Communists, backed by North Vietnam, were fighting in a civil war against the U.S.-supported Royal Lao government. Because the United States signed the 1962 Geneva Accords prohibiting American military involvement in Laos, the bombing, organized by President Kennedy, the CIA and the Air Force, was kept secret, both from Congress and from the American people, to pursue a covert strategy for ridding the countryside of Communists. Initial targets were Communists troops, supply depots and lines of communication. Later, to prevent the soldiers from having access to men and materials, the U.S. began to bomb farms, villages and towns. The consequences for Lao civilians were devastating. American planes delivered the equivalent of a B-52 planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. More bombs were dropped on Laos at that time than on Germany and Japan combined during World War II.
In the last three decades more than 12,000 people, many of them children, have been killed or injured by bombies or other unexploded ordnance (weapons). With an estimated 90 million cluster bombs dropped on Laos, many experts consider Laos to be the most heavily ordnance-contaminated country in the world.
BOMBIES tells the untold story of the deadly legacy of unexploded cluster bombs in Laos through the personal experiences of villagers, activists and others who courageously deal with them on a daily basis.
Bombies examines the problem of unexploded cluster bombs through the personal experiences of a group of Laotians and foreigners and argues for their elimination as a weapon of war. Unfortunately they are still a standard part of the US arsenal and were dropped both in Kosovo and now Afghanistan.
This is an outstanding video which should be in all K-16 video collections. But what’s amazing, and really tragical, is that if you asked 99.9% of educators whether they have ever seen the video, they will tell you no. And recently I emailed Bullfrog films asking them how many K-16 schools in California have purchased the video and they said 3, only THREE in the entire state of California! One was my school district, one was UC Berkeley and one down in southern California. Compounding this problem is that none of the Central Valley PBS stations played the video when it first came out. Why would Bay Area PBS stations promote and show the video, but KVIE and KIXE ignore it? I emailed KVIE and they told me that they didn’t think it was something their members would be interested in. Again, tragical.
To order the video contact http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/bombie.html
The video is really powerful, but when my summer 2003 tour group went to Xieng Khuang and visited with a man and his three daughters whose wife/mother had been killed by a bombie just two weeks earlier, the tragedy of UXO in Laos was made all too REAL. If you look at the “Laos Tours Revisited” photo album on this site and go toward the end you can see more photos and read more about the family and what’s being done about UXO in Laos (Photos 186-192).