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Camp Bao Cao

On March 29, 1968 we reached Camp Bao Cao.  In Vietnamese that means, "please may I". The prisoners named this camp as such because we were trained to bow and say "Bao Cao" every time we asked for food and other things that we needed. Days later, I heard a familiar voice. Much to my surprise, my Filipino friend and co-worker at VOA, Arturo Balagot also arrived. I felt relieved knowing there was another Filipino in camp. We were interrogated here and kept under solitary confinement for three months. Our cells were approximately six feet long, 4 feet wide and 6 feet high and no windows. Here we were allowed to bathe outside next to a big barrel of cold water and were allowed to shave. We were fed twice a day with rice and a little bit of vegetable soup that was mostly water.

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Pop stayed in cell #2

I discovered a poem on the wall in this room and I copied it on a cigarette wrapper.  I believe an American Air Force pilot once occupied it: 

High Flight

O I have slipped the surely bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings

Sunward I've climbed and chased the shouting wind along and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of

Up, up the long delirious burning blue, I've flung my sturdy eager craft through footless halls of air

I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace where never lark or even eagle flew and while with silent lifting mind

I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space and put out my hand and touched the face of God.

 

Around the first week of July 1968, we were transported by truck and traveled a dirt road called the Ho Chi Minh Trail. After walking everyday for several months, the thought of riding in a truck seemed like luxury.

 

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Asterisks indicate prison camp.  The Ho Chi Minh Trail is a dirt road that stretches across the boundaries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This trail was bombed constantly, but because of a large work crew, it was repaired as soon as it was destroyed.

(With Marc Cayer's permission, map and illustration above with some modification, was taken from his book 'Prisoner in Vietnam' )

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had big smiles on our faces as we got on. Several hours later, those smiles turned into grunts and moans. The ride was so excruciating because the driver managed to hit every pothole on the road. We were bouncing and being thrown everywhere. Sitting on our folded blankets didn't do much good. We thought it would have been better if we walked!

Page 4 - Camp 77
Page 5 - Camp Rockville
Page 6 - Hanoi Hilton  

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This page was last updated 09/23/01

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