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
Nha Trang Air Base was the location of the 5th Special Forces
Headquarters. Located on the coast, Nha Trang is 1,287 km south of Hanoi,
624 km south of Hue, 442 km from Saigon, and 50 km North of Cam Ranh Bay AB.
Aircraft used to support the Army was C-130, C-7 Caribou, and Gunships. The
VNAF flew A1E Skyraiders. The US Army, VNAF, and USAF each secured their own
perimeter. The section was small with approx. 7 dog posts. A modern kennels
replaced a large tent with dogs chained to telephone poles. The new kennels
was concrete & chain link fence.
Over it's lifetime, two Security Police units were assigned to Phan Rang AB.
Usually when these changes occurred, all personnel remained, just the unit
name (or number) was changed. It's a military thing! Nha Trang was the home
of the 14th and 90th.
Photo Below: Nha Trang flightline Courtesy of Roy Hall,
Sentry Dog Handler
Visible below is Nha Trang’s runway # 12 with the bay in the
background. Nha Trang , was a heavily defended base, serving as the home
base for more than 40,000 troops, including 2,000 American GIs. The base
was situated in a valley, with warehouses and an airstrip to the east, a
fuel storage area and hills to the west, and docks and storage facilities
located to the south along the China Sea.
Photo Above: Courtesy of Peter A Bird (Former Caribou
Peter A. Bird Roy Hall Phil Lange
Nha Trang Air Base
The Dogs The Handlers