Qui Nhon 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

Qui Nhon was a major seaport and capital of Binh Dinh Province, in the central highlands of South Viet Nam. It was located on the coast, south of Da Nang AB.  This was the main seaport for all military forces in the Central Highlands. Practically all supplies destined for the Highlands region were off-loaded from ships which docked in the port, which had been enhanced by U.S. contractors to accommodate deep-draft ships. Transport airplanes (C-130 Hercules and C-7 Caribous) were used to transport supplies and personnel.  Forward Air Controllers were assigned here, with their own aircraft ground crews. 

The Army had a large number of support units in Qui Nhon and its suburbs. These included a field hospital and large supply center. Qui Nhon also provided an operating base and logistic center for the Navy’s Coastal Surveillance Force. With easy access to coastal waters and the shipping lanes of the South China Sea, the port was well placed to support the anti-infiltration operation, known as "Market Time."

 Sentry dogs assigned to the Army's 981st Sentry Dog Company were used in the area but to my knowledge Air Force dogs were never assigned to Qui Nhon. 

Above Photo Courtesy of Dan Braswell

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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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