Nha Trang Air Base,

Republic of Vietnam

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 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

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 Flight Line 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 Pilot)

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