Camp Ashau (A Sau) was one of the early Special Forces camps established in the country. As U.S. command through intelligence saw how important the Ashau Valley was for the PAVN, it was decided that a number of Special Forces camps should be established in order to deny PAVN free access to the valley. Thus, in 1963, the camps of Aluoi and Ta Bat was established together with Camp Ashau. Aluoi was the most northern outpost, just a couple of kilometers north of where the road from Hue reaches the valley, Ta Bat a few kilometers south of that and Camp Ashau being the most southern one, the three camps effectively blocked the whole southern part of the valley.
With the Laotian border being just across the ridge west of the camp, the location was well chosen to cause maximum disruption to PAVN’s activities. During the days of 9th to 10th of March, large forces of the PAVN staged fierce attacks on the camp. Poor weather conditions made attempts to resupply and reinforce the forces in the camp practically impossible. Completely overwhelming the U.S. Special Forces personnel and their irregular South Vietnamese forces, the PAVN troops were able to overrun the camp in the afternoon of the 10th. Two Medals of Honor were awarded for actions during the battle. As the last soldiers were evacuated from the camp, it would not be until the spring of 1968 until U.S. forces returned to the valley.
Today there are really no remains of the camp to be found at the site except that one can just about make out the old runway, we will get back and get video from that. The area is still partly covered with craters from B52 bomb strikes that took place after the battle and also later as the war in the valley raged on. However, a visit to the site is still well worth the effort. Standing on the site of one of the early larger battles, looking north along the valley floor, Ta Bat and Aluoi almost within visible range one will certainly understand why PAVN was so determined in getting this obstacle out of the way. Being located just a couple of hours drive from Hue, today the area can hardly be considered remote, but during the war, this was “Indian Country”. Visiting here on the floor of this rugged valley, one will certainly get a feel for how far away from any type of civilization this was in those days.
At the time of our last visit we were not able to walk the site as we have done previously, therefore pictures posted are overlooking the site from the main road a couple of hundred meters away.
How to get there
Camp Ashau is located about 12 kilometers south of Aluoi and about 800 meters west of the main road leading through the valley. Normally it is very easy to access the area also on a day tour from Hue or if one is spending the night in Aluoi. As this is very close to the border to Laos, it could mean that access sometimes is restricted. Make sure to check in with the local authorities in Aluoi before attempting to go to the site.
Decimal coordinates: 16.120754, 107.330488