During the Vietnam War, the defense of
Air Force bases mirrored the conflict itself: There was no rear echelon once
the entire country became a battlefield. Air Force 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 Force 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
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
Binh Thuy Air Base, located in the
Mekong delta, was the most southern airbase in South Vietnam. It was
located approximately seventy (70) miles southwest of Saigon. In 1965 Air
Force units moved a few miles, from the US Army's Can Thou Airfield, to
their new airbase. The airbase was located up river from the city.
The city of Can Tho (200,000 Population), was approximately three (3)
miles to the east of the base. The terrain of the delta was at sea level and was penetrated with many
rivers, canals, streams, and marshes. A Naval Support Activity was located
next to Bien Thuy Air Base. Air Force resources included gunships,
transport aircraft, and other close air support aircraft.
Over it's lifetime, two Security Police units were
assigned to Bien Thuy. Usually when these changes occurred, all personnel
remained, just the unit name (or number) was changed. It's a military
thing! Bien Thuy was the home of the 632nd and 633rd.