Just north of the mountains on the ocean side of the road was a Marine chopper unit and north of that was a Special Forces compound. On the other side of the road north of the mountains was a POW compound and Adams Base. 2/1 maintained a Grunt company at Tu Cau bridge, a Grunt company at a leprosarium on the coast, a Grunt company at a fire base just west of the mountains, and one Grunt company at the battalion area. So when you were at the fire base near the mountains you manned a check point just south of where the road ran through the mountains.
We ran patrols around the mountains and through Nui Kim Son. Nui Kim Son, which translates to "Mountain of Gold," was a village at the base of marble mountain, a quiet village and all people there were friendlies; you never got hit in Nui Kim Son. Just about all the villagers were jewelers; they made nice stuff, too. A trail ran out of Nui Kim Son to the north, to the base of Marble Mountain where there was the monastery and a huge cave opening. Just inside the cave entrance, which was huge, was a statue of Buddha, just like in the Indiana Jones movie. 2/1 had just come down to Da Nang from up north and the Marines moving out told this story...
Never--never--ever go in any of the caves or tunnels in any of the mountains and for sure stay out of the cave by the monastery. Well, Indiana Jones had not been invented yet, but it was made real clear about bobby traps, secret passages, and tons of gold and jewels hidden inside the caves. We were also told that there was a squad of Marines that had gone in there to never return. We figured that we had enough to worry about without playing Indiana Jones and kinda of blew it off as bullshit. But Nui Kim Son, the mountains, the caves, the monastery and statue of Buddha do exist; i have seen them.
I never thought too much of Nui Kim Son until about a year ago. A good Vietnamese friend of mine here at work named Chanh Tran (he's from Saigon) and I got talking one day and I mentioned I knew of Nui Kim Son and Marble Mountain and such. He got this look on his face and asked me if I ever had heard the legend of Nui Kim Son. I said I had heard some stuff but thought it was bullshit.
He then told me the Vietnamese version of "Legend of Nui Kim Son." Back in the feudal war lord years, all the war lords stored their gold and jewels inside Marble Mountain. The monks at the monastery guarded the caves, the gold and jewels and passages inside. The villagers of Nui Kim Son made jewelry for the war lords and jewelry for themselves to sell. All the villagers, to ensure security, never married outside the village. Chanh said that over hundreds of years that large amounts of gold and jewelry made its way inside the mountains of Nui Kim Son and no body really knew how much was in there because the monks always hid it and they were the only ones to know their way around inside the mountains.
Okay, Okay. I thought maybe what I heard 27 years ago was not bulklshit, after all. Chanh is from Saigon, not Da Nang; how would he know... unless it is a vietnamese legend passed down... Nah, can't be. Grunt bullshit. Chanh kinda sensed this and asked if I would like to meet and have lunch with a friend of his, a jeweler from Nui Kim Son. He has a jewelry shop here in Denver.
Whoa. Wait a minute! I could not resist. I met Ho Thang at lunch who thanked me keeping Nui Kim Son safe. He said he was always glad to see the Marine patrols, who he said the patrols kept the NVA and VC away from his village. We parted new friends.
About two weeks later Chanh gave me a present from Ho Thang, a little gold buddha. Ho's thanks, said Chanh.
Anyway. Fact, fiction, or myth. All i know is, I have seen Nui Kim Son, the monastery, the statue of Buddha, the Marble Mountains. I have seen Ho Thang and I have my little gold buddha.
That my friends is the legend of Marble Mountain, according to Gene'o, Chanh Tran and Ho Thang.