• Conclusion – French Indochina

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    We left Brigadaire General Charles Bovier and Coronel Gerard Duran in Northwest Viet Nam, after making their escape from Bien Dien Phu. Now they are floating on a log in the Da River after their helicopter crashed. Something very large bumps the log and then turns it over.

    “It’s every man for himself,” said Charles, viciously kicking Duran’s broken leg as he started racing for the river’s south bank.  Duran started to paddle after him, but then stopped.  He wasn’t sure why – lack of speed with his missing lung and badly broken leg, fatigue from combat and the plunge into the river, or maybe he sensed that whatever was out there might be more attracted to turbulence – but he was ready to die and he grasped the small gold crucifix that hung around his neck.

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    The thing roared toward him, aiming its long flat snout above the water, arching its jaws to consume him.  Duran thought he recognized it – a grotesque Goblin Shark; a huge vicious predator that could chop him in half.  He turned slightly so he wouldn’t have to look into those massive jaws and black eyes.

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    But the Goblin turned away, streaking toward the Bovier’s splashing.  Charles reached the shallows, standing in water just above his knees.  He turned toward Duran, cupped his hands, and yelled, “You always were a loser, Duran, I’ll tell Gisele you died a coward.” Then suddenly his legs were jerked from beneath him – there was one scream, and he disappeared.

    Coronal Duran drifted on down to just above Hanoi where he was rescued, and eventually transferred back to France as the military left the country. Ann Marie came with him. He told Gisele that Charles had died valiantly, a hero to his men – what else could he say to her .

    The last five years of his army career were spent in Algeria, but he, Ann Marie, and their two-year-old daughter were able to make two trips to the Society Islands. On his discharge Coronal Duran became the appointed mayor and chief customs officer in Bora Bora.

    Joseph Ollivier

    October 2017

    AUTHORS NOTES

    On May 7th, 1954, the garrison at Bien Dien Phu was ordered to fight to the death for the honor of France. But as they were overrun by 26,000 Viet Minh, most decided not give their lives needlessly, and threw down their arms in surrender. An attempt by some to escape to Laos only got more killed. On 8 May, the Viet Minh counted 11,721 prisoners, of whom 4,436 were wounded. All able bodied troops began a 500 mile march to internment.  Because of the defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the government of France fell, and within two years troops had withdrawn from all of Indochina.  The country was split in half.  Before long, the US was providing advisers to the South which assisted in the escalation of the Viet Nam War.

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    The Goblin Shark is a very strange creature.  Its capillaries are close to the surface of its skin, giving it a pinkish hue.  It cruises along with its teeth and jaw pulled inside , then as it attacks, the entire mouth extends from its body.  Not something you would want to meet in the open ocean.

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