Ban Me Thout,

Republic of Vietnam

During the Vietnam War, the defense of Air Bases mirrored the conflict itself: There was no rear echelon once the entire country became a battlefield. Air Bases relatively, unaffected by ground forces in past wars, were no longer considered safe havens. They, too, suffered from costly ground assaults and mortar shelling.

Within easy reach of North Vietnamese troops, Air Bases in Vietnam and Thailand were attacked 478 times from 1964 to 1973. One hundred and fifty-five Americans were killed and 1,702 wounded, along with 375 allied aircraft being destroyed and 1,203 damaged. In fact, more U.S. planes were lost in ground action (101) than in dogfights with MIGs (62).

Bien Hoa Air Base, located 15 miles north of Saigon, was the first U.S. air base in Vietnam to taste the damage a small, well-trained force can inflict. A hit-and-run mortar attack destroyed  five B-57 bombers and damaged 15 others. The Viet Cong, in less than five minutes, wiped out an entire squadron.    

The attack hammered home a hard message. To fight in the air, the Air Force had to be able to fight on the ground."      Above Published in AF Times

Ban Me Thout (later known as Camp Coryell by the Army), was located about 70 nautical miles North East of Cam Ranh Bay AB. It is midway between the coast and the Cambodia border and between the tip of the Mekong Delta and the Demilitarized Zone, just south of the infamous La Drang Valley in the Central Highlands. Ban Me Thuot also was the focus of an NVA attack which began on March 10, 1975 by three NVA divisions which marked the beginning of the final NVA offensive which culminated in the fall of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. The Army  had a Special Forces Camp, helicopter company, and the headquarters of an artillery regiment. The 212 Military Police Company had sentry dogs assigned.

Forward Air Controllers (detached  from the 19th Tactical Support Sq. assigned to the 23rd ARVN Division) were assigned here, with their own aircraft ground crews.  The 19th TASS was a unit of the 505th TCG till about 1968, when it became part of the 504th TCCG. Combat Control Teams (Coordinated gunship air strikes and other air support) was also assigned. 

In 1962, Ban Me Thout was the scene of an infamous attack on a civilian  hospital. This hospital treated Vietnamese infected with leprosy. The missionary doctors and nurses were massacred. Their remains of most, were found. However, several members of the medical staff were captured and were never seen again. Their remain MIA to this date. The NVA and  VC denied any knowledge of this. Actress Jane Fonda, "AKA Hanoi Jane" never mentioned this while supporting North Vietnam.

Attack on Ban Me Thout Leprosarium

Links of Interest To Non-VSPA Internet Pages

US Army 155th Aviation Company        505th TCG Website

At the end of the American cavalry era, the Army disposed of its horses by machine gunning them to death. In our war, the dogs were treated the same way. Only it was done in a more “humane” manner. Some excess dogs were reassigned to other bases in the Pacific but most were killed. The US Military has pledged not to dispose of military working dogs in such a manner again. 

Please read  Death of a Warrior.




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