Pha Din pass – symbol of Vietnamese people’s staunch spirit in Dien Bien Phu campaign

(VOVworld) - Pha Din pass was once the route over which Vietnamese soldiers dragged artillery and food up the mountain to the Dien Bien Phu battlefield in Vietnam’s northwest. The 1954 Dien Bien Phu victory over the French colonialists led to the signing of the Geneva Accords, ending the war in Vietnam. The pass has become a symbol of the staunch spirit of the Vietnamese, many of whom sacrificed their lives at a very young age for national independence.  

Pha Din pass – symbol of Vietnamese people’s staunch spirit in Dien Bien Phu campaign  - ảnh 1War veteran Nguyen Van Ky talks about the time he was a volunteer for the Dien Bien Phu campaign. 

84-year-old Nguyen Van Ky, a war veteran who lives in Son La city, still remembers fighting at the Dien Bien Phu battlefield. In March, 1954, as Vietnamese troops planned their offensive, Ky was put in charge of an army squad responsible for filling in bomb craters along Pha Din pass, which was heavily bombed by French jets.

Ky and his squad leveled the surface of Meo slope, one of the most-bombed spots in Pha Din pass. Ky remembers the 12 members of his squad trying to smoothe the slope before dawn. The car of Colonel Dinh Duc Thien, chief of the Army Transport Bureau, who was conducting an inspection tour, was waiting to cross the pass. Ky was afraid that the enemy might drop bombs while Colonel Thien was waiting there, so he asked his soldiers to use bamboo tree trunks to carry his vehicle over the bomb crater. Ky said: “On my command, the soldiers stood up. We carried his car to the other side of the hole.”

94-year-old former volunteer soldier Pham Van Minh of Son La City also remembers the Dien Bien Phu campaign. Once ten vehicles from Viet Bac, the headquarters of the Communist Party of Vietnam, had to carry cannons in broad daylight to reach the Dien Bien Phu battlefield in time. His company, on duty at the top of Pha Din pass, disguised the vehicles by covering them with tree branches. Minh recalled: “It was about 2 or 3 pm when two Hellcats patrolling from Dien Bien bombed our position. A large fire engulfed area and the nearby forest so we hesitated to return to our company. Several fellow soldiers led me back. I was afraid the bombs might have killed the soldiers of my company but fortunately, they all escaped the bombs and the fire by taking cover by nearby streams.”

Pha Din pass – symbol of Vietnamese people’s staunch spirit in Dien Bien Phu campaign  - ảnh 2 A marker is erected on the Pha Din pass at the junction of the old Pha Din road and National Highway No.6.

After the war, the once little-used Pha Din pass was upgraded several times. Now it is wider and busy with local people who gather here to trade farm produce, orchids, and animals. 94-year-old Lo Van Chon of Thuan Chau district, Son La province, who served in the Dien Bien Phu campaign, said: “The upgraded pass makes local transporatation easier. We are thankful to the Party and State. Our lives now are better with abundant food”

In the Thai language, “Pha” means sky and “Din” means land so “Pha Din” is understood to be the “meeting point of heaven and earth”. The magnificent mountain rage is romantic with colorful flowers. Pha Din pass has become a tourist attraction, comprising Pha Din flower garden, Pha Din peak, and the Pha Din pass tourism area.   

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