Laos: The Special War

Each day a woman hangs out her wash to dry alongside one of the myriad branches of the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. This innocent-looking domestic scene is of particular interest to U.S. reconnaissance pilots, who daily "go around the corner"—their lingo for their semisecret flights over neutral Laos—to check on the lady's wash. When no laundry is on the line, that is a signal from the sharp-eyed housekeeper that North Vietnamese troops or trucks are moving near by. Within minutes after the pilots notice that the wash is not out, U.S. planes are raining bombs down upon...

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