National Military Cemetery
Thu Duc
     


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National Military Cemetery

 

ARVN Cemetry
This is the National Military Cemetery in Thu Duc. It was also the tomb of the Unknown ARVN Soldier. In 1968 the tomb stood on a hill that could be seen for miles. Now the hill is overgrown and buildings along the road obscure the hill completely.

For an update look at my page http://www.henrybechtold.com/2015/2015journal.html and read the entry for Tuesday 7 July. you can also find the photos of this trip at my Phanfare account. Name Henry Bechtold and the date of 7 July 2015.

Rt 1 near the National Military Cemetery has undergone some changes so I have corrected my directions the best I can.

Directions to the National Military Cemetery

South on Rt 1 from Long Binh, Bien Hoa - Pass Vung Tau Cutoff (Big C Store, your near left)

North on Rt 1 - Pass Thu Duc and make a u-turn at the Southwest corner of the former Long Binh Post(Big C store on your far right).

Now all are heading South. Cross Cogido River, Pass Di An Cutoff.

Continue a short distance, Petrolimex Gas Station is on the right, In a hundred feet is a road on your right. At the end of the road you can see the gate to the stairway up to the tomb on the hill. It is not easy to see but it is there.

After visiting the tomb on the hill, as you look at the gate from Rt 1 go to your left around the hill. You come to a cross road and continue straight. Shortly, after a brick yard, is a gate on the right, A small building is inside. You must stop and sign in with the officer. He is pleasant. He may ask if you have a camera and if you do say yes. He allowed me to keep mine and also to take photos. A friend, who was with me, suggested a tip of 100,000 VND for the officer and his assistant. I gave 200,000 to the officer and he shared it with the assistant. The man who was officer is now replaced by a military officer so I do not know if a tip is correct however inside an older lady took us to see the grave of the Unknown Soldier who was reburied after the tomb on the hill was removed in 1975 and he is now in a grave. She also showed us the row of the Generals. I did tip her 50,000 VND, 100,000 VND would not be excessive.


This is the gateway to a stairs that lead up a hill to the tomb of the unknown soldier. He was an ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) soldier and he was interred here. Behind this hill is a large cemetery with a large monument. The government removed the soldier in 1975 and desecrated the tomb. A water plant is behind the hill and covers some of the ground of the adjoining cemetery. If you drive up Rt 1 it is hard to see the gate which is about a quarter mile off rt1. There are no signs or markers and the road leading to the gate has 2 foot swells and foot deep potholes filled with water. The Tomb used to be visible for miles but now it is overgrown and hidden by roadside buildings and huge bill boards. Most taxi drivers will not know it is here. Even My Bich, who has had a weekend home nearby, has heard of it but did not know if it existed or not. Mr. Bich asked how I could have seen the gate from the road. I said I knew where it was. It is not on any tour or in guidebooks and the government wants it that way. Only in the last few years has it been removed from off limits. A sign once said “This is where the puppet soldiers pay for their crimes”. Now the overgrowth almost seems to hide and protect the sight. In the cemetery some of the graves are cleaned and cared for by family. Others have no family to care for them. Some graves have no marker. It is a stark contrast to the Ho Chi Minh City cemetery a short distance towards Saigon. HCM City cemetery is nicely planted and maintained. The ARVN buried here are all but forgotten. It is a beautifully sad place and yet very peaceful. It was once open and was hot, the sun beat down. Now the trees and shrubs, growing wild, have made it cool and quiet much like a chapel. The artist who sculpted the Mourning Soldier lives in California, I have heard. It would be nice if he could cast another statue of the Mourning Soldier and they could place it by the road again. To think that so many gave so much and yet nothing was accomplished, nothing was learned.
Through the gate
This stairs leads up to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier.
The Tomb in the 1960's
This is how the tomb looked in 1968 when I was there. The stairs you see are the ones above. This photo was taken by Bob Craft and can be seen, along with others, at his website at www.1967vacation.westescalante.com
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
This was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (ARVN). After the fall the soldier's remains were removed and the tomb was desecrated. Now a Buddhist order has built a temple on the grounds and put an alter in the building that housed for the tomb.
Alter
Alter in the Tomb Building
The Generals
There is a row of larger graves which were once the Generals. There were seven but now there are only two. Five were removed by family and interred elsewhere. Two remain. This is one. Behind you can see the other graves which are generally a simple slab of concrete with a raise marker at the head.
General Huynh Hai
Close up of the marker above.

Some of the graves have only a small marker. At others there is nothing.
The Unknown Soldier
It is interesting that the Unknown Soldier was removed from the tomb since he was on the side of the invaders and betrayed his country, at least in the eyes of the new regime. However he was reburried in a nice respectful grave.

CLose up of the marker for the Unknown Soldier.
Monument in the Cemetery behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a large monument. It is nearly centered in the Cemetery. It is hollow concrete and has been left unmaintained for many years until just recently when the influx of the returning Vietnamese want to visit their ancestors buried here. The returning Vietnamese have money and so now the cemetery is a historic site. I think begrudgingly.
Monument in the Cemetery behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Looking up the side of the tower in the monument.