Forty years after the American military attacked them, the people of Tropeang Phlong village in Cambodia were still traumatized.
Beginning around 1969, U.S. helicopters regularly strafed the village, according to survivors. The American choppers used the wind off their blades to blow the thatch roofs off homes, turned their machine guns on those who fled and on men and women working in the rice paddies and fired incendiary rockets that set houses ablaze. Aircraft dropped bombs and gleaming napalm canisters that tumbled end over end and bloomed into fiery explosions.
“My nephew was killed — his stomach was blown out — and my older brother was wounded by an airstrike,” Oun Hean, the village chief, told me when I visited in 2010. “During the attack, they fled to the pagoda, but the Americans dropped a bomb on it.”