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Cau Quang Tri (Cầu Quảng Trị)

Vietnamese. ‘Quang Tri Bridge’. Name of a historically important bridge over the Thach Han River in Hai Lang (map - Hải Lăng) District of Vietnam's Quang Tri Province, in the North Central Region and which during the Second Indochina War saw some intense fighting. It is located alongside the present-day Thach Han Bridge and consists of a railroad flanked by an ordinary traffic road on either side. On 10 April 1972, 19 North Vietnamese soldiers of the 20 men strong 2nd Platoon, 11th Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Regiment, Division 304, led by Commander-in-Chief Mai Quoc Ca (Mai Quốc Ca), and tasked with seizing the Quang Tri Bridge, lost their lives when it engaged with an overwhelming force of South Vietnamese troops. After the battle ended, the South Vietnamese troops left the dead VC’s bodies on the river bank and prevented anyone from retrieving them for burial, while the only surviving —though seriously injured— soldier of the Mai Quoc Ca Platoon was captured. When local discontent over the decomposing bodies increased, a unit of VC guerrillas attacked the South Vietnamese soldiers and robbed the 19 bodies for burial. In 1973, with the policy of returning Prisoners of War, the surviving soldier was released and returned to his hometown. Today, a memorial on the northern bank of the Thach Han River, between the Thach Han and Quang Tri Bridges, features 20 red drops of blood, symbolizing the sacrifice of the heroes of Mai Quoc Ca Platoon (fig.).