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The Vietnam War B-52 Bomber Wreck at the Center of a Small Pond

Where: Hanoi, Vietnam
July 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM | by | ()

Besides some of the cheapest beer in the world, visitors to Hanoi will find the city to be rich in history, specifically as it relates to America and the Vietnam War. There is much to see and to learn almost forty years since the end of the war, and trips to the National Museum of History and the Military History Museum are a good place to start.

But if you want to get a taste of what day-to-day life was like for locals during the 70s, a trip to Huu Tiep Lake should be on the itinerary. In 1972, as America bombed the city, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber was shot down and crashed into a small lake. It still rests there today, just poking above the surface.

It's more of a pond than a lake, and what surprised us most was its location in a colorful, intimate little neighborhood in west Hanoi. Half of it is sticking out above the water, revealing the top of the tires and a look at some of the damaged undercarriage. It's just been left there, untouched.

Walking there from the Old Quarter, we wound our way through small streets and tight alleys, which added a lot of perspective to the experience. Okay, it's a plane in a lake...but imagine what it must have been like for someone living here at the time, to see this war machine fall out of the sky and land in their front yard. Scary stuff.

And you think about what it must be like to walk by it everyday, for them to remember those terrifying days when bombs fell from the sky, when all other aspects of life took a backseat to survival. The closest things we have here in the States to compare is Pearl Harbor and Ground Zero, the main difference being that those sites have been built up and are meant as memorials. This B-52 in the lake, however, has no hype. It's just sitting there, a matter of fact.

A visit to check it out won't take you long. The pond is probably 100 feet by 100 feet, and what you see in the photos is what you'll see in person. In that sense, there are no surprises. But it's not the plane itself that makes this site special and worth your time. No. It's what's unsaid that speaks the loudest, the realization of what the people went through, the visible downed bomber only the tip of the contextual iceberg.

[Photos: Will McGough]

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