Ben Het Special Forces Camp

Ben Het Special Forces Camp, located in what was once one of the most dangerous places on earth; the tri-border area between Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos,  was placed there on purpose in order to monitor movements in the area and to fend off intruders infiltrating across the border. Originally there was a tribal village on the site.

Runway at Ben Het

This is an encouraging site to visit as the runway is still there and possible to drive or walk down. The base as such was located on a set of hills overlooking the valley that stretched towards the border area. These hills are just north of the runway and it is possible to walk up them and move around where the old base was. There are also some remains of the old berms and fighting positions further down in the valley.

Ben Het, looking up at the hills where the base was located.

Special Forces teams led countless missions from the base across the borders to Laos And Cambodia in order to perform reconnaissance and combat missions on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Right across the border in to Cambodia the mountains formed natural routes leading in to Vietnam which were heavily used by the PAVN forces. The Green Berets overlooking the heavy traffic inside the Cambodian border could find themselves in situations where they could see the heavy traffic of men and material infiltrating Vietnam but were unable to report back as they had to stay dead silent in order not to compromise their positions.

Ben Het has the distinct honor of being one of the few places during the Vietnam War where a tank against tank battle took place. This happened in March 1969 when PAVN forces reinforced with armor engaged the troops at the camp resulting in the destruction of tanks on both sides. One Vietnamese tank was also by chance hit by US artillery as it approached the base.

 

How to get there

Today, the area is easily reached via the main road stretching west from Plei Can, west of Dak To. A visit here is a must for anyone traveling between Kon Tum and Kham Duc along the Ho Chi Minh Highway. The eastern edge of the runway brushes up against this road and can be easily accessed during the periods when logging companies are not utilizing it. Like many other areas staying on established trails decreases the likelihood of encountering any old unexploded ordnance. Located so close to the borders with Laos and Cambodia the area is often closed for foreigners to visit so we recommend any travelers to contact the local police in Plei Can or Kon Tum should they want to visit.

South of this location are the sites of the famous battles of Hill 875, Hill 724 and the NVA incursion during November of 1967. Many of those hills can also be accessed via the smaller roads.

 

Decimal coordinates 14.688, 107.661

 

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18 thoughts on “Ben Het SF Camp”

  1. I’m Larry Thomas and was attached to the 105 unit, 3/6 arty. I was there in June 69. The night of 6/23 we were hit pretty hard and a sapper put a satchel charge in our bunker at around 3 am. I was on my way to the bunker as I was on my way to relieve my buddy when I heard the explosion. When I finally arrived at the bunker I found one friend was killed and two were wounded. I have never or will forget that night and I can still picture Ben Het.

  2. I commanded Q-4 radar site during the summer of 1970. The previous site commander had hit a mine on his way back from Pleiku. The man next to him was killed. The only officer that was killed in our entire Target Acquisition battery was killed at Ben Het in 1969. Fortunately for me, it was pretty quiet during the months that I was there. That was after the invasion of Cambodia. I remember seeing the high sun-lite mountains in the distance in the evening. We occupied the highest point on the main hill.

  3. I’m Robert Boyce, and I spent a lot of time at Ben Het with ‘D’ Battery, 5/16 Artillery, 8″ SP. We were set up right off the road next to an ARVN camp, and too our right a 5th SF group. We took a mortar hit on the breech of one of our guns that left a faint but beautiful sunburst pattern, art in war! We called the place ‘Been hit’ because of the rockets and mortars, but far worse for us was Polie Kleng. It rained 122MMs there.

    1. Robert. Thank you for your comment You provide great historical context to the article. Did you see that we have an article on Polei Kleng also on the website? Still lots to see at that camp.

  4. I was on west hill as part of a 3 tank detachment from B Troop 1/10 Cav for several weeks during late April May and June in 1968. Does anyone out here remember that?

    1. Yes I was at Benhet in 1968-69 when the T-96 Russian Tanks hit us on that faitful night. North Hill had SP-155’s and they got hit real bad, they didn’t put out any guards only Mantenyards were the protection. They lost 80% of there men I was a part of SF/6th 14th Arty that had to go over in the middle of the night to secure the hill from take over by NVA and to get wounded to main hill,mean while You lost your Tank Commander and in the day light You guys went after NVA Tanks and destroyed them. Not the best night and I don’t blame You guys for going after them dispite the bitching from high command. I was the Commo Sgt. on the main attempting to keep communications between the 3 hills, my guys had to run wires between the hills in the middle of that night.

  5. Gary Berry
    O served from November 1968 to January 1970.
    6th / 14th 175 mm Gun.
    Would like to hear from anyone in that time.

    1. You could have been me! I left for ‘Nam on Thanksgiving, 1968 and returned in January, 1970. I was a movement specialist and my primary duty station was Saigon. We worked out of an old mansion right along the river. We had “offices” in the Delta and near the DMZ- Dong Ha and Cua Viet. It was a strange and life changing experience and only people who have been there understand what happened. I was drafted out of graduate school so oddly I had a weird advantage . When I retired, I was surprised how my memory lit up and I found myself thinking about things I thought I had forgotten. Made some good friends there. I miss those who passed on. I’m not much of a talker but it’s always good to acknowledge those people I served with. I still think we were a great generation -maybe even greater than others because we had to put up with so much negativity and slander, yet we still did our jobs. .

    2. Hello Cprl. Berry Sgt.Pete Koense Commo , all 11 guys I’ve tracked in Commo have passed on from what I hear and posts.

    3. I was there at Ben Het as a searchlight operator jeep mounted. First Field Forces. On Main hill. Early 1970. We had a twin 40mm Duster on west hill. I was in the OP tower at night with a starlight scope slept at the base of the tower in a conex. Do you remember The Mess hall being blown up moment after being opened at noon. For the first and only time? I WATCHED for week as it was being built. Had may meal on a table. When they targeted it! Never got to eat. Came back after the attack. Nothing was left. Never re opened it.Igot wounded their a few weeks later. Was treated at the aid station. Medic filled out casualty feeder card. Said to me you just get a purple heat! That card was lost or not forwarded to my unit. Never got it. Had a friend killed in a latrine. Shrapnel hit him in his left temple. He operated the Freddie computer for Artillery. Told him to got to aid station. He refused,went back to his computer. Tiny hole very little blood. DIED at the computer. Wish I could remember his name. Would know it if I heard it. Think we called him Blevit as a nick name. I was Sp/4 John Faulk B Batery 1/29th Arty. Searchlight.

  6. I am still amazed at the fact that the jungle is gone; if you look at the size of the trees being harvested you can imagine the size of the canopy we fought under.

    1. Don, thanks for your comment. Yes, there is not much of pristine jungle left, more or less only in the national parks. I was surprised on on Hamburger Hill that the jungle was so high and dense although 49 years ago it was basically a moon landscape.

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