04 March 2017

A Champion's Journey On The Blood Road

On this date in 1965, more than 30 US Air Force jets bombed the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.  It was not such the first such raid, nor was it the first to be reported in the press.  After the attacks on this date, however, the State Department felt compelled to assert that these missions were authorized by the powers granted to President Lyndon B. Johnson with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of August 1964.

(Four decades later, newly-declassified documents would reveal what many had suspected:  The incident that served as the rationale for the resolution had not, in fact, happened.  Sound familiar?)

Anyway, I don't have to tell you about the carnage that resulted from the Vietnam War.  When I was writing about a Veterans' event for a local newspaper, I talked to someone who'd fought in Cambodia and still had nightmares.  He reminded me that more than 55,000 members of the American Armed Forces died there (not to mention many more Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Chinese, Russian, and other fighters).  "That's a whole stadium full of people," he exclaimed.  "Whenever I think of that war, I picture a whole stadium full of people getting killed."

One of those casualties was Rebecca Rusch's father.  He was shot down and killed during the war.

Today she is a firefighter and EMT in Ketcham, Idaho, where she lives.  But she is better known as "The Queen of Pain" for her exploits as a rock climber, white-water rafter---and mountain biker. 

Among her feats in the latter sport is a record for riding the length of the 228 kilometer Kokopelli Trail.  As if that weren't enough, she rode the 1800 kilometer Ho Chi Minh Trail, in part, to get to know her father better.  She was only three and a half years old when he was killed.

A full-length feature film about her journey, Blood Road, will open in the Sun Valley Film Festival on 15 March.  I won't be able to make it, so I hope the film makes it out my way soon!


  1. Among her many accomplishments she is a three time winner of the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200 mile gravel stroll through the Flint Hills region of Kansas. Awesome lady!

  2. Phillip--She is indeed an awesome lady!