Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

War Museum VI.

This is coolbert:


* Montagnard loin cloth and robe.

"The Degar (referred to by French colonists as Montagnard) are the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The term Montagnard means 'mountain people' in French"

[for the purposes of this blog entry, montagnards will be referred to as Degar, the name they call themselves!!]

The traditional standard dress [at least until recently] for a Degar man is a loincloth, and NOTHING ELSE, a robe being worn during times of ceremony or festivities?

These two pieces of apparel appear to be hand woven, finely made with loving care. Embroidered?!

"The Degar have a long history of tensions with the Vietnamese majority"

[the lowland Vietnamese derisively refer to the Degar as moi', meaning SAVAGE!!]

* Montagnard cross-bow.

Has the appearance of a TOY. But, mark my words, is much more than a toy. Small in size, but nonetheless deadly. A crudely made [again, apparently made with a lot of loving care, etching of a decorative nature present on the body of the crossbow!] but effective weapon probably used by the Degar for hunting small game. Complete with mini-arrows [crossbows shoot BOLTS]. If you got shot with a bolt from this crossbow, you would know that something was instantaneously very wrong!!

Instances of Degar wielding crossbows are mentioned in Vietnam era literature.

In the book “The Green Berets”, by Robin Moore, Degar men hunt monkey for food, using bolts tipped with poison.

Degar irregulars using crossbows have an encounter with the German French Foreign Legion SS battalion in the book, "The Devil's Guard"!!

Some special mention must be made here of the Degar and their contributions to the war effort in both the First and Second Indo-China War. Fighting first with the French under the command of GCMA [20,000 men], and then organized into fighting units by American Special Forces [SF] [up to 40,000 Degar fought with the Americans]. Conducted both guerrilla and counter-guerrilla warfare against the Viet Minh and later the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army.

"The U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, developed base camps in the area and recruited the Degar, roughly 40,000 of whom fought alongside American soldiers and became a major part of the U.S. military effort in the Highlands."

[sometimes the Degar DID fight on the side of the communist in Vietnam. Please recall the scene in the movie “Apocalyse Now” where the chief-of-the-boat is killed by a thrown spear. That spear would have been thrown by a Degar who was hunting Americans!]

Since the end of the Second Indo-China War, the fate of the Degar has NOT been kind. The object of a repressive campaign by the lowland Vietnamese that borders upon GENOCIDE!!

An American ex-Special Forces trooper donated the loincloth, robe, and crossbow to the War Museum. A man who obviously had served with Degar units in Vietnam.




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