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Booby Traps

Booby traps were used by the Viet Cong as "non-explosive land mines". They still injured the victim and added to the stress of the war. Not only did the American soldiers have to be on the constant lookout for non-uniformed North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong, but they had to worry that with each step they took, they may end up in a hole with poisoned spikes in it. This was extremely stressful for the American soldiers and many Vietnam veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. This condition may have resulted from the stress that came from mine fields and also from the stress that came with the decision of whether or not to shoot and 'innocent' civilian. Since the Vietnamese army was not uniformed, it made it extremely difficult for the American soldiers to know who was a threat and who was innocent.

Punji Stake Pit

This trap was just as its name suggests-a pit. When building this, the VC would dig a hole and line the inside of the hole with stakes. The stakes were simply pieces of bamboo that had been sharpened and fire hardened. They were sharp enough to easily penetrate through a soldier's thick boot. Many times the ends of the stakes were covered with enzymes or poison that would cause infection. After the hole was lined with the stakes, the covering was put over the pit. This brush and grass covering was just thick enough that the pit was disguised but still flexible enough to be easily penetrated when stepped on.

Punji Bear Trap

This booby trap was built basically in the same fashion as the Punji Stake Pit. Instead of one uniformly shaped pit though, this hole consisted of two different sized holes-a larger hole on top of a smaller hole. The VC would place a bear trap over top of the smaller hole so that when the victim's foot penetrated the brush covering, it would land on the trap causing it to snap shut in an upward motion. There was hardly any escaping the trap's grasp on the victim's foot.

Side Closing Trap

The traps were a more sophisticated version of the Punji Stake Pits and Bear Traps. They were made with a large plank of wood that was laid over a hole filled with spikes. The large piece of wood was attached, in the middle, to a piece of wood that stretched across the width of the pit. This acted as a pivot for the large piece of covering wood. When a soldier stepped on one end of the plank, their weight caused the wood to lower and the victim fell into the stake filled pit.