Chu Lai

Once a quiet, beautiful and secluded beach, Chu Lai today is the site of the Chu Lai International Airport. One of many medium sized airports around the country, serving both domestic and international passengers.

Fifty years ago this was one of the largest U.S. bases in the country, covering the southern I Corps and northern II Corps with air support as well as having large medical facilities to receive wounded for advanced treatments. Over the years the base hosted large units from the U.S. Marine Corps, ARVN units and Army units from the Americal Division.

It all started in the early summer of 1965 when ”Seabees” from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion arrived to start construct a small runway and a base to establish the first presence in the area. Over time, they added to the facilities with both a full size runway, a large helicopter pad as well as a helicopter base.

Please click on pictures for slide show

Thousands of troops from most kinds of available units were stationed here making it not only a fully functional combat base, but a small city.

The base covered a huge area, several kilometers from north to south and about two kilometers wide. Over the years, Bob Hope with guests such as Connie Stevens and Ann-Margaret came to entertain the troops on several occassions through USO arranged shows. We were happy to find the USO area at our visit where these shows took place, very little remains but the foundations of some of the bleachers are still around.

We have also found the helicopter pad with the white ”H” still painted on the ground as well as the medevac helicopters’ red cross. As a passenger arriving at or taking off from the airport one will also see the old hangars.

Visiting the base isn’t done entirely without problems. The People’s Army has facilities all around the area and it is an international airport, making access limited. However, it is possible to get around from the south and up on the east side without trespassing, making it possible to visit parts of the old base. It is also possible to enter from the main road QL1 north of the base towards the Ky ha peninsula.

Overall, this is a well worth visit for the history traveler. Large parts of the base, perhaps half, is outside the army and airport areas making it possible to move around relatively freely discovering the base.

Caution should be exercised though as live ordnance is still found around the base area. As always, our recommendation is to stick to well traveled trails and roads.



How to get there

Chu Lai is located along the main road QL1 around 110 kilometers south of Da Nang and less than 80 kilometers south of Hoi an. It makes for a nice day trip in combination with visiting other war sites or Cham temples along the road.


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182 thoughts on “Chu Lai Combat Base”

  1. I landed with H&S Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines on May 7, 1965. I was ExecO of the company and my first duty was to clear civilians out of the rear area from the beach to Highway 1. Later I was a Platoon Leader of 1st Platoon, Co. G, 2/4 and later Co. I, 3/7. I left Vietnam in February, 1966. I participated in Operation Starlite and Mallard.

  2. I was with Mag 12& 13 crash crew from June 69 to June 70. Lived at East Field or between two Army Huey squadrons. Love to hear from anyone familiar with East Field.. Semper Fi.

    1. Hi Scott. My name is Joe age 76 and I was in the Navy stationed in Chu Lai at Fire Station #2 directly across from the Americal PX from June 69 to June 70. I vaguely remember (one time) rolling to the airfield to extinguish a small fire around some napalm bombs that were hopefully not filled. I’m not sure why we rolled to that fire because I think that you guys normally handled everything at the airport. The biggest fire that I personally fought was the fire at the petroleum dump that was hit by a rocket or mortar. 55 gallon drums of oil were exploding and rocketing into the air. Anyway if you get a chance let me know if you remember our fire station. There was also a Navh fire station somewhere near the airport. Take care

  3. I was there from February thru September 1969. VMFA 232 Aviation Ordnance. Sent to Iwakuni, Japan for remainder of tour. What was the risk for agent orange exposure at Chu Lai?

  4. Hello!

    My dad, Gary A. Giles served in Vietnam, I believe at this base but cannot find good records and unfortunately, he passed about 15 years ago. My husband and I are traveling to Vietnam in November and would love to visit where my dad was stationed. I requested and received his military records which showed he was in the 26th engineering battalion and 23rd infantry division. Just posting to see if by chance anyone knew him or where they may have been stationed.

    Appreciate ANY help!

    1. I was also in the 26th Engineers. I was in Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. We were not on main Chu Lai we were a couple miles north on QL1. The other companies were on other LZ’s. That was in 1969.

  5. Hello.

    My dad, James O Greer, was stationed at this base during the war. I know there are very few remnants left, but I am trying to find ANY part of the base I can still visit. I am currently in Hoi An. Does anyone have specific directions? Thank you so much for any help.

  6. C r byassee buh2 Charlie co. Mcb 10 l was in chu lai veitnam in may 1965 in the spring of 1966 transfers to mcb4 I’ll was in chu lai to July 1966 the date Mcb10 left veveitnam was wrong I was to get out before my 21 birthday

  7. I was Stationed in Chul Lai from Jan 2 1969 to Dec 31 1969. I was assigned to the 252nd Radar Det. Were on the hill top across from the airbase.
    We tracked the coordinance of rockets & motors being fired at the airbace. we relayed them to the artillary. As usuall with the military I was trained in artillary at Ft. Sill Okla. When I got in country I was sent to a radar unit, which I knew nothing about.

    1. I was stationed in Chu Lai Sept 69 to Sept 70. I was with the 547th Sig Det that repaired the Q4. Our paths most likely crossed.

    2. Did you ever meet Tom Castonguay at Chu Lai? He was a Navy Corpsman stationed there with MAG 13. If you knew him I would love to hear from you. He was at Chu Lai from May 1969 to March 1970 or thereabouts. Thanks Ada Castonguay

  8. Of my nearly seven year civilian career in Vietnam working for RMK-BRJ construction company medic, I was stationed at Chu Lai from Jan 1968 to Jan 1970. During the Tet offensive the ammo dump blew up turning the dark night into day light, causing me to slink down three floors of our house barge while receiving AK rifle fire from the mainland and joining bunkered US Army troopers some who were firing there AR-15 back. With lots of luck I made it to the trenches during the cross fire.

  9. Hi, I was the Bat Ammo Sgt for the 5/46th when it 1st got there from Ft Hood, Mar 68.. we built the 4 ammo bunkers & hut into the far hillside along the road just below the night bunker guards. I was discharged at Ft Lewis Oct 68. Wouldn’t mind hearing from anyone in that timeframe. Later, Sgt Net.

    1. Chulai was my base camp October 67 to October 68. I served with the 523rd signal battalion, c-company. Our company was a supporting unit for various military operations. I always volunteered to ‘go out’ avoiding kp and guard.

      1. My Great Uncle was stationed there in October 1967, and was injured in the attack on )October 15, 1967

  10. delta company 1 st battalion 4 th marine brigade out of kanio, hawaii landed to suport seebee early 1965 chu lai island also. 0351 3.5 rocket / demo’s

    1. Thats for building my base. It worked well. I was there from sept 66 to nov 67. Jim Sgt USMC …. Medicacs

  11. I was in Chu Lai most of 1967 with the army’s 39th Combat Engineer Battalion. Would like to hear from my mates from those days.
    Jeff Roberts SP4

    1. I’m coming to this conversation late as the daughter of CSM Jeremiah (Jerry) Lewis. He was stationed at Chu Lai from late 1969 to late 1970 or so from what I remember. He was a 30 year veteran when he retired in 1972. WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. We were in Okinawa whpokeren he got his promotion to Command and 2 weeks later he had orders for Viet Nam. This cut our tour short because apparently his position needed to be filled quickly. He almost retired at that point, but being the lifer of duty and honor chose to stay in service. When he came home he was different, he would still tell stories about WWII and Korea for hours, he would not talk about Viet Nam ever, only to say where he was stationed. I write to you folks to find out if there is anyone out there that served with him or knew him during his time there. I do know that during his military service he was a fan of chess, bridge, and poker. I know this because he would his winnings to my Mom like little bonuses.
      I was looking through your mail on this sight and didn’t really see anyone one from the army base so I am curious about the folks that were there at that time. Like I said he never shared anything. He passed in 2007. I’m very proud of my Dad, he was the recipient during his service of 3 Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, and numerous other awards and I made sure he was buried with honors and all the fanfare afforded him. He retired out of Ft Old, California, ironically the same base he did his basic training.
      I followed him into the service, not the Army, I went into the Air Force as a rigger at March AFB for B52’s and KC-135s. Honestly he told home he would break my arm if I talked to an Army recruiter (women weren’t treated well then).
      That’s my story and hope I didn’t bore you folks but I would like to hear from you if anyone knows. Thank-you for indulging me Toni

    2. I was stationed at the Admin Pad in Chu Lai lots of flights and passengers to Danang, Quin Yon, Duc Pho. 68-69

    3. I was with the 39th combat engineers in Chu Lai in 67 and 68 during the attack on the base.

  12. I’m interested in collecting info about the 2/7 Marines, particularly Company G in 1966. (Anyone know what ship they arrived on and the day they landed at Da Nang in January 1966?)
    I am researching the Operations 2/7 was involved in from Jan. 1966 until the end of January 1967. Have lots of questions if anyone is willing to help a bit. I can post or e-mail specific questions.
    I am currently reading Utter’s Battalion 2/7 Marines in Vietnam 1965-66 to get some history.
    I have a Marine friend who was in Nam with 2/7 and I want to write about his time, etc in Vietnam.
    I would like to collect more info and write a story that will honor the Marines who served with him.

    Thanks to all of you who served the country.

    1. Yes, there was a tower, which was used as security for the POL farm right on the beach. On one side was A marine helicopter squadron on the other side, where the Seabees. For your information we do have a Facebook page for Chu Lai,Vietnam

  13. My father Joseph W. Schwendinger was stationed there. He was with the Marine Attack Squadron 311. I have a lot of pictures that he had taken there. Anyone else with that squadron? Anyone know him? IF so get up with me.

      1. Tôi và gia đình tôi hiện đang sinh sống ở chu lai, cha tôi trước 1975 là lính Vietnam cộng hòa. Tôi rất quan tâm về quê hương tôi nhất là thời kỳ chiến tranh, tôi rất vui mừng nếu được ông cho tặng tôi những hình ảnh về chu lai. Tôi chân thành cảm ơn ông chúc ông nhiều sức khỏe !!
        Gmail của tôi: [email protected]

    1. Hello Dan. My father was the late esteemed Captain Dr. Leonard Brennan (“Drew”). He served in Chu Lai as a medical doctor while you were there, it sounds. I will be traveling to VietNam in August to visit and may seek to write something if inspired. I’d enjoy hearing from you, especially if you remember my Dad.
      Drew Brennan

    2. I was in Chu Lai 1967 to 1968 with 584 Eng Det for Large Power Generators attached to 160th Eng Comp ,Later part of 80th Support Battalion.In Tet attack on Army units .Applied hear loss from VA denied.Dan G

  14. I served from 1970-’71 in ChiLai., attached to the signal batillion as a radio teletype operator O5C. About 1 mile from the beac and 2nd in command headquarters.
    Would like to hear from anyone in the 523rd sig.

    1. Hello Mark,
      I also was with the 523 signal Bn. from July 70 till
      July 71. Spent my time working in the EMS shop
      at Hq company. as a radio relay and carrier equipment repair.
      Welcome home brother.

  15. Was with first Mag-12 unit to land in May 1965. Was Group supply clerk. Nothing but jungle. Lived in GP tents.
    We deployed from Iwakuni, Japan aboard ship to Chu Lai.

  16. My Dad , Alan F Schaefer was there from March 66 -December 66. He was in a bad accident passed January 7 1967. He was involved in MAG 12 avionics. If any one knew him let me know. I was only 8 when he was killed.

  17. In Chu Lai March 70-71. Worked Ky Ha tower with Mulvaney and Hartwick to mention a few until Ky Ha was shut down then moved to Chu Lai West tower which was the main air field. Worked with War Lords, Slow Motion, Dolphins and Dust Off and others I can’t remember. After Nam it was off to Hunter Army Air field, Savana Georgia.

    1. There also. Med evac pilot until the unit sent home.
      I was Not sent home, then flew with War Lords…
      Then sent to Ft, Bragg, bumped in to some of the War Lords…
      I was REALLY lucky ! Chewed up a lot of hueys !
      5 roommates lost…. when I left, only 2 original of us still surviving !

  18. Arrived MAG 12, MABS 12 Sept ’68. Served as Utilities officer with MSgt G.W.Carriger, GySgts Thjiery, Perry & Rodebaugh and SSgt Jones. Collateral assignments later as Engr EqutO With SSgt Phillips, Sgts Nobel and Barnes and TAFDS with GySgt Tomlinson. ‘kept busy enough that mutch was a blur.

  19. Was in Chu Lai 1970 abt 7 mths with VMA 214 before being sent off to Iwakuni. Remember the raining of incoming rockets. Was lucky compared to others.

    1. Was there with 5th 46th Americal in 70-71. When in the rear, remembering getting rocketed from Rocket Pocket.

      1. Was at Chu Lai .8/70-5/71….
        HHC 5/46 198th LIB TOC
        KY TRA 318089 Forward TOC
        Rto/ RTT. Unit deactivated in May of 71
        Had to have over 9 months in country to go home early.I had 7days over l
        Left 5/15/71.
        Discharged 5/17/71 Ft Lewis
        West Central illinois

  20. Spent last part of 1966 most of 1967 off loading LST. SPENT A WEEK IN THE HOSPITAL SOME SICKNESS NEVER TOLD WHAT I’M WAS

  21. Involved in initial beach landing October 1964-October 1965 with VMA 225. There was nothing there but open terrain; awaiting the runway of PSP to be installed and later arresting gear.

      1. Hi Chris….
        I do not know how much you know about your father’s disappearance. There is some information on web site that you may already know or may not know.
        Just “search CDB” then “name search”, fill he his name and submit. What document we have will be on the “Go” button.

    1. James E McCurry,
      I know you like me are getting old, I’m 72 and would guess you are about 77-78, but like a lot of others your dates are off a bit, maybe memory??
      The origional beach landing at Chu Lai was in March of 65 that was the first ground troops, and VMA-225 was with MAG-12 and didn’t leave Iwakuni Japan until May of 65

  22. I went ashore with the Seabees MCB-10 and three divisions of Marines May 7 1965. I took a lot of home movies of the Seabees Training at Camp Pendleton our trip on the LSTs and our time at Chu Lai building the airfield among other things. go to. How to be a combat dentist go to YouTube.
    a brief history of Vietnam and my experience as a dentist with the Marines and Seabees.
    I was stationed at Camp Pendleton in a Marine Dental Clinic for about a year before going to MCB-10. We did see some holes probably leading to the tunnels we were told they were “spider holes”. A VC would hid in them at night an pop out to take a shot at you during the day time. We had not heard about the tunnel systems at that time. I did dentistry for the Marines and Seabees and would go to the villages to treat villagers. There were no dentists with out going to Da Nang. few of the villagers had been more than 10 miles out of their villages.

    1. I landed right behind you, I May 18, 1965. I was with the 1st. Platoon B Company 3rd Amtrac Bn. 1st. Marine Division. We supported the Marine Battalion that kept you safe. I hope we did a good job. You guys did an awesome job putting that air field together in such a short time. I remember our Marine Air Wing using it before I was TDY to Danang. Thank you

  23. Deployed to a place they called Chu Lai in mid May 1965 from Iwakuni, Japan on LST 1165 Washoe County. My unit was VMA 225 a Marine A4C Skyhawk Squadron. Aircraft from VMA 225 were the first to land on the half constructed SATS airstrip on June 1, 1965. On You Tube Search Box, type VMA 225. Many Home Movies and Slide Shows. Also on Facebook 1st Marine Air Wing; Chu Lai, RVN.

    1. Was there same time. H&MS-12, MAG-12 Supply. Don’t even remember name of ship. But then there’s a lot I don’t remember these days. Regretfully.

  24. Does anyone recall the location of LZ Gude which was established in early October 1967 by the 11th Aviation Group (attached to the 1st Cvalry Division) on an unidentified island near Chu Lai? It was reported to be “nothing but pine trees and sand.” It was nicknamed “Gilligan’s Island.” I suspect the island was Tam Hai north of the Kỳ Hà peninsula; am I correct?

  25. I landed 7 May 1965 with the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, we were the security for the Base while the Airstrip was being built. Spent time on the Outposts called the Catfishes. Just a beach when we landed.

  26. FSB4-11 (“Hill 411”) with C 1/44 fall of 1970. Lost C221 on 3 October, went over to LZ Crunch for my last few weeks in country. After 18 months, was ready to go back to the world. Returned October 2017, now a large quarry operation. Manager was told the PAVN had occupied the hill during the American war, was surprised to learn we had been there as well.

  27. Douglas Clunis
    July 1967 To July 1968
    I was NSAD Chu lai assigned to Mag 12 & Mag 13 as airfield lighting maintenance when the lights went down was John and I who would bring them back on When they were out Marines ran up down the runway lighting smugepots so aircraft could land & take off.John & I also put in the lights for helo pad Americal Division commanding General . John Tipton was from Tenn I was from Mi. We also assisted any place we happened to be where elect asist was needed Perfed to work at night felt saffer

  28. I was in Chu Lai, 132nd Assault Support Helicopter Company from March to October 1968. I was a US Army Spec5 Administrative Clerk assigned to Headquarters Americal Division. Our hooches and our plywood, tin roof office, was right on the China Beach. Only a couple hundred yards from the Chu Lai air strip. Would like to hear from some of those that were there too.

    1. Hello Darle, my name is Gene Banco, 198th Lt Inf. Brigade, Chu Lai, HHC, S-4, Oct 3, 1967 -Sept. 3, 1968, Combat on Bunker LIne at LZ Bayonet. Our Mess Hall Hosted a few cook outs on the Division Air Base South Chine Sea waterfront. Witnessed fake fishing boats (with VC posing as fisherman) blow out of the water and survivors captured on the Beach. One hell of year. But Chu Lai was a better place than most. Glad you made home.

    2. I was originally assigned to the 257th PSC (Americal Headquarters, Chu Lai) starting in September 1968 as a finance clerk. Company was absorbed by HQ Americal in spring of 1969. Went home in July of 1969. Was there when they changed the script (money). Flew by chopper to Duc Pho several times to help soldiers with their finance issues when they were on stand-down. Hooch was across the road from the NCO Club and could see the South China Sea from my rear steps.

    3. I returned to the states as a Spec 5 in April 1971 after 11 months 6 days with 132nd Aviation, Americal Division. As I had less than 6 months left on my 2 year draft commitment, I was given a “drop” and sent home. Served as a mechanic (trained at Ft. Eustice, VA) and Crew Chief on CH47. During the last several months of my tour we move north to the Phu Bia area we frequently flew to locations across the border.

    4. Hi Darle,
      My brother Melvin (Sonny) Skramstad was in Chu Lai 1968 to May 1969 132nd assault support helicopter co. He was a door gunner. Passed away Feb 8 1972 as a result of a car accident.

  29. I was stationed in Chu Lia Vietnam 69-70. 123 Aviation Battalion. When the marine F-4 group was pulled out, we took over there flight line. USARMY.
    Dan Markley

    1. I was at Camp Shields in Chu Lai, right on the beach between the Navy POL fuel farm and the Americal Camp. I could see the CH 47’s from the hill.

    2. My husband was a senior helicopter mechanic “Schildgen Raiders “. Does that mean anything to anyone?

    3. Danny I was at the Ky Ha helicopter base Aug’69-Oct’70.Worked in the Prop& Rotor Shop far end of the hanger.I was there when they moved us to the main air base..123rd also.
      Great beach to hang out on .

  30. I was at NSAD from Aug. ’68 til Mar. ’70 .
    Attached to Navy Clubs & Messes.
    Everyone called me “Shorty”.
    Extended my tour and came home with an early out.
    All respect to brothers with “real” duty.

  31. I was stationed in Ch Lai in 69/70 and was assigned to MAG-13, VMFA-115 initially. I had many friends, but the old memory just can’t come up with names. My best friend was Mike Cicoff. We were both E-3s at the time and worked in the ordinance shop together. Our OIC was Capt. John Fogg, a super cool officer. He later became a part of the Blue Angels and after retiring he went into politics and became the Mayor of Pensacola, Florida. The only other person I remember is Ssgt Jones. Lots of other memories, but insufficient space and time. God bless all of you who served.

      1. Was there at the same time. Same fighter group. We ate together, lived next to them. Same chow hall, same night club, same everything. i’m sure we had a beer or two together.

    1. My husband Tom Castonguay was a Navy Corpsman stationed in Chu Lai from May 1969 until around May 1970 when he was transferred to Japan for 3 months before returning to the states. He was with MAG-13 then. I know very little about his time there but I do know he lost a very good buddy whose hootch was shot up by an incoming rocket. Do you happen to remember him, Tom Castonguay? If so I would love to hear from you. Thanks.
      P.S. Thank you for your service. I hope your return was a lot better than those who got spat on etc.

  32. I was there 1970-71 at LZ Dotti. Due to agent orange, sI had 4 different types of cancers including prostate and bladder cancer.

  33. My husband was stationed here in 1970-71. He was a medic with lthe 5/46. 198th . He was in charge of the Aid Station. His name was John Boggs. He served with Stan Russell, Mike McKinley Brad Jackson, Ed Westfall, Mike Mohr & Mike Colligan. I know there were more but their names escape me
    I would like to hear from these guys. I lost Johnny to cancer 24 years ago

    1. Sorry to hear of his loss. IF I can remember, he was my medic for awhile. He was in Company C. Ed was in charge of getting food and clothing to us in the bush. Mike was in the 3rd Platoon with me. He might have known Bill Walker, Pat Goodfellow, Lt. Stark

    2. Karen, my husband, Tom Castonguay, was a Navy corpsman at Chu Lai stationed with MAG-13. He was there from May 1969 to March 1970 when he was moved to Japan for his last 3 months. He died April 18, 1998 from lymphatic melanoma but the government refuses to accept that it came from agent orange. I am so sorry for your loss and I hope you are doing well. God bless you.

    3. Karen, my husband, Tom Castonguay, was a Navy corpsman at Chu Lai stationed with MAG-13. He was there from May 1969 to March 1970 when he was moved to Japan for his last 3 months. He died April 18, 1998 from lymphatic melanoma. I am so sorry for your loss and I hope you are doing well. God bless you.

  34. My brother Lance Corporal Donald Gagne of the Marine Corp died from drowning in the South China Sea in November of 1966. Anyone remember him?
    Thank you.

  35. I was USMC and at Chu Lai in 65-66. My unit was VMA-214 (Black Sheep Squadron). My MOS was 6511 Ordnance. We were attacked by VC Suicide Squads in the early morning hours of 28 October, 1965. Being on duty as part of the night Ordnance crew, it got “up close and personal” with the VC. We survived and they didn’t. As the years have passed, Agent Orange affected me with cancer and ischemic heart disease. Even though my VA disability rating is 100%, I consider myself one of the lucky ones, because so many have died due to Agent Orange. I selected a unique “personalized” Disabled Veteran License Plate for my car (“DIOXIN”). It’s the poison in Agent Orange and it’s still killing us. In a subtle way, people who see my license plate will get the message…
    Semper Fidelis – Semper Paratus

    1. James M. Walker, rank Sp5, Company Clerk of HHC Americal Division January 1968 until January 1969

      1. We overlapped. I was with 23rd Admin Co. Nov. 67 to June 68. A Co. 8th SPT 196 LIB before Americal was formed.

    2. Scotty

      I was in Chulai from April of 1965 when we landed off of an LSTn to set up a perimiter for the Seabees who would construct the airbase there. I too have had three different cancers and yet the VA does not consider me affected by agent orange…even though we would watch the planes spraying the area with it. Can you tell me what information you used to be considered “exposed” to the stuff?

    3. I was with 214 avionics during the same time period sept 65 -oct 66 I remember the Oct 28th attack, I was on Mess duty that month and guarded the water tower that night, Heard the chaos over the hill but didint see anything until the AM. Been with the VA for healthcare and monitering issues welcome home brother semper fi

    4. I was drafted in 1965 but signed up for four years in the Marine air wing Marine Air Cadet program, but they had closed that, so for some reason I became a 6511 at Jasonville Fla. and graduated first in my class and then went to VMF-333 in South Carolina, what a plane the F-8 was. Orders came in and on Dec. 23rd 1967 I found myself back on the beach! at Chu Lai and the Cee-Bee’s had a surfboard so of course I paddled out. The flight line was full when I got there and for some unknown reason they sent me TDY to the 23rd MP’s (with absolutely no training) where I found myself standing inspection every morning with a 1911 45 strapped to my hip, with a bunch of Army guys, and that’s when a sapper crawled in and blew up the South Dump and knocked us flat on our asses and then the 122’s by the many struck. We thought in those first moments that they had dropped the “Big” one on us. Back a month and a half later to the flight line but after 6 months or so I became a shit bird and became a “Bomb Dumper” for the rest of my 13 months which took me to Feb. of 1969. Two Christmas’s in country uck. Ordinance was a great trade wasn’t it, blowing stuff up. Irony of Irony, I plumbed General Schwarzkopf’s house in Telluride Co, and we got to talking about Chu Lai. He and his guys had our perimeter in late 68′ and he said we were probably safer there than in the states, ha. What a remarkable man. As a plumber I was pretty healthy having all those germs to be around every day, but 4 years ago I dropped my pride and went for my VA benefits and got 100% benefits. My VA guy who was great, told my wife, because of Agent Orange exposure if I died of anything heart related she would get half my benefits for the rest of her life. How could they spray Dioxin on us all? but I think Vietnam was all just a cover for the “Air America” drug running operation handed to them by the French starting in the 50’s. We did get to buy opiated tie stick for $2 a bag though so there was that.
      Take care out there Rod, and semper fi.

    5. 6511 was the greatest trade, learned so much on the flight line for four years, and so much respect for our pilots.

    6. One of the VC from that Suicide squads had survived from the war and told the tales:
      ” They cross to the base from Ky Ha to the Chulai base as ten PM by two boats , 7 of them on each. They left two boats outside the beach arrived the air base at midnight quietly with home made grenades and AK 47s.
      At midnight they threw grenades to the camps and blewed a number of planes, the dammages and casualties were unknown . With the heavy resistane of US marines afterward and the flares shining over head, only one boats and 7 of them returned safely to Ky Ha. The 7 remains had been killed….

  36. I was I was in Chulai from Feb 67 to Feb 68 with the 196 Inf spent time on hill 445 and want to take a tour visit.

    1. I am curious. Were there any Viet Cong tunnels at Chu Lai? I ask because I was at Cu Chi where we had lots of tunnels. The reason I ask is because a person stated that her husband went to Ch Lai for three years and was a 0321 Tunnel rat. I was an 11C4L FO/interpreter back then in Cu Chi.

      1. Chu Lai was way to sandy for tunnels. It was like lose sand on the a beach. I was there 09/11/66 through 11/24/68
        Air Craft Launh and Recovery.

      2. I was with the 935th MID Detachment to the 23rd Division. 96C2L Interrogator. Using Americal as our home base we supported the 11th Brigade, the 196th Brigade, the 198th Brigade and numerous Fire Bases in the area. We were little known to those in Chu Lai as our POW facility was located at the far South end of the base and had less than 15 men at best. We shared a Mess Hall with the CB’s and had a 1-man motor pool for our 1-Jeep. Fighter Jets passed over head early AM on their bombing runs. After some months I was transferred to the 11th in Duc Pho where I lived underground with a few LRRP’s, Marines and Special Forces. There were maybe 12 of us total. In country Dec 68 and home Dec 69. Spent 17 days in hospital as an FUO patient and still suffering after effects. No medical records for my stay. No help from VA.

    2. What Unit? I was in A 8th Spt 196 LIB June 67 until absorbed by Americal in Nov 67. 23rd Admin until June 68.

  37. My husband, SP/4 John William Swift, there in 1968. With the ‘Hell on Wheels’. He passed at 41 of cancer.

  38. I was in Chu Lai in 67 with MCB-6 in 66 I was in Da Nang the Seabees were my foundation to a great career,I became a general Superintendent for two different Companies.Wagner Construction and Condon/ Johnson.Once a Seabee,always a Seabee…….Can Do.

    1. I was there 8-66 to 7-67 with Supply Co., FLSG-B. Was involved in 9 operations for LSA’s.
      Loadmaster for resupply for the “grunts”.

  39. Was there 1965 & 66. Worked on construction of Camp Ely, for third Marine Div. With 7th Engineers out of Da Nang area.

  40. My father LCPL George Emerick was a tank commander who also secured the area while seabees built the airbase in 1965. Proud of all of you and welcome home. He inspired me to make a career in the military. Go Army!

  41. I was at Chu Lai twice in one day. I was flying along with one of our C-130B Hercules out of Tan Son Nhut AB. We were moving the 1st Calvary from Ane Khe up to Chu Lai. We made two trips. On the last trip into Chu Lai, after we landed and unloaded everything, we were taking a small break drinking a soda. It was almost sundown, and we were just about to leave when there was an alert going off. We raced to our plane and quickly fired it up and took off. As we got airborne, we were up at 14,000 when we heard a radio transmission telling us to quickly climb up another 2000 ft. Artillery fire was coming up at us from somebody and if we hadn’t climbed, we would have been shot down. I remember that flight home very well. I was sitting up in the cockpit area just behind where the flight engineer would be. I had a headset on and could hear everything. I was talking to the flight crew and watching the giant thunderhead dark cloud banks we were avoiding. Those things were massive. Over fifty years ago but I can still see them in my mind. I was a turboprop mechanic and I had worked on all of our airplanes, so it was really nice to see them in action. On another trip later that month we went into Duc Pho army base and upon leaving got the whole back end of the vertical stabilizer all shot up. We were really fortunate that no hydraulic lines were hit. When we landed at Cam Rhun Bay. we saw hundreds of bullet holes in it. We all just stood there staring at it for the longest time. No one said a word and then we all just walked away. I think everybody knew just how lucky we were to be alive. I lost a cousin and a high school friend over there. I was there 67-68. My trips north all happened in September of 1967.

  42. I was there as a Bn. Scout with 1st Bn. 7th Marines in 65/66. While scouts were rotated quite frequently I spent a lot of time across the river with Charlie Co.

  43. Was a corpsman at Chu Lai 68-69 next to chapel flew dust off and took med caps on swift boats. If any one has a photo of the Chapel please send it to me family destroyed all my photos.

    1. I was also there 68-69 with Marine Air Wing, Squadron VMFA-314.
      I have a picture in my collection of a Chapel I would be happy to send to you.
      Contact me at my email address and I’ll forward the picture.

      Mike McCormick

        1. Sorry Doc, I said I’d send that picture but I never got back on this site until now.
          If you are still interested in that Chu Lai chapel, I don’t know if it’s the one you are expecting but I can still send the one I have.
          I’m reachable at the listed email address

        1. I was in Metal shop but was assigned to Check Crew most of the time.
          I checked my VMFA-314 yearbook but you aren’t listed in the ordinance section.

      1. Thanks Mike
        I would a copy of the chapel. I think
        it might be the one behind VMFA-323 hanger. I served Nov 67-Dec 68 in Ordnance.

        1. Ron, that Chapel was a real sore point with a lot of people (myself included). The Chaplain did not think GOD’s word should be spoken from the enlisted club and arranged for the chapel to be built. I had been filing in as, Avionics Chief, Defense Platoon GySgt, Maintenance Chief and SgtMajor when SgtMajor Ralph Ballard was goofing off (and then when he rotated). That construction took men from maintenance when we were really short handed and the demand for flyable aircraft was extremely hard. I and a lot of other maintenance folks supported your shop with bomb humping/loading due to lack of SATS louder’s and tractors. The enlisted men diode helluva job and do not take second place in pride of the support given our “grunts”. 67-68 was some real bad times in the “neighborhood”, my personal thanks to you and the men of VMFA-323.

  44. Looking for any information pertaining to Sgt. Richard Craig Bram of Mag 12, VMA 225. Chu Lai July of 1965.

  45. I just googled your site and what it is about. Really enjoying the memories. I was Navy HM3/Mar 8404 “Doc” arriving in Nov 66 and assigned to 1st Hosp Co and outlying medical groups. It was just getting started with mostly tents and some Quonset reinforced huts for surgery. Had Marine units supporting us and Seabees working on permanent structures and huts. An Army Hosp. was across the hills/valley on the beach, along with Seabees and Swift boat group. Went on alot of MedCap travels along with supply trips to outlying Marine Aide Stations and ferrying wounded out to Hospital Ship. Would like to connect with any former troops from this area(Nov66-Dec67. Watched Seabees construct huge Amphitheater next to us with good shows late in 67. Don Durflinger

  46. I was with Company B 26th Combat Engineers, just off Hwy 1 across from the Marine airbase from Sept 1 1968 to Nov 3 1969 (extended 2 months for early out). Took awhile to get used to the Jets taking off and landing through the nights..

  47. Was there with H&S Btry, 2nd LAAM Bn. sept ’65 (debarked from LST 824, Henry County) Left in Sept 66. Was one of the life guards at the beach for several months. They built us a nice lifeguard tower but somehow I wasn’t too confident that a Marine in a tower with binoculars would be considered harmless to Charlie. Stood at the bottom.

  48. I have many photos from this area. They were taken by my father, Lt. David G. Butterfield in 1965-66, including some great ones of Bob Hope, etc. in the USO Show and of Robert Mitchum’s visit and a few of those stationed there at that time. Also, some of the local people and landscape. Are you interested in posting them here? I’d like to have them posted somewhere so I can share the link with others. These are photos that were never seen previously.

    1. James M. Walker, rank Sp5, Company Clerk of HHC Americal Division January 8,1968 until January 7,1969.

    2. Hi Leslie, I just found this website while searching for photos of Chu Lai from 1965. A buddy of mine was also there in 1965 and met Robert Mitchum and saw Bob Hope’s show. I mentioned your post to him and he’d love to see your father’s photos. Please send me an email at [email protected]


    1. Attached to 1st. Mar Div 1FSR H&S Co. utilities platoon Camp Pendleton Ca. Arrived Okinawa 8/65, aboard USS Henrico APA 45. Arrived Chu Lai 1/66-9/66. Served with FLSG-B. Attached to maintenance unit. On arrival, attached to perimeter security for 30 days. Then volunteered for another 30 days. Finished my tour working maintenance, rebuilding, repairing small engines. What an experience.

  49. John Harris says:
    Drafted out of High School. After Ft.Jackson basic, I graduated from the Corps of Engineers school at Ft. Belvoir, Va. and sent to Ft. Carson and attached to a Ordinance staging company for assignment to USAPAC (VN) and then to the Bien Hoa ammo dump. This was not good. I did convoy work hauling artillery shells in a 5 ton dragon wagon and night guard at the ammo dump among other jobs.. but I wanted to do heavy Engineer work for which I was trained.
    After 5 months of trying not to die I volunteered for my MOS as a heavy equipment engineer job in Chu Lai and graced with a brand new Allis Chalmer HD 16 dozer. The Marines loved it to. They had very poor equipment.
    Thank God. I liked Chu Lai and was grateful for my assignment and the men I worked with. When my 12 months were over I was approached by my superior with orders to Ft. Dix and at that point I was also offered to extend for 38 more days at Chu Lai and would receive a 90 day ‘early out’. What a deal. I stayed in Chu Lai.


  51. Was in Chu Lai 65 -66 USMC . WE WERE THE FIRST ONES IN AND COVERED FOR THE CB’s. What a great bunch of guy’s

    1. My father LCPL George Emerick was a tank commander who also secured the area while seabees built the airbase in 1965. Proud of all of you and welcome home. He inspired me to make a career in the military. Go Army!

    2. With MCB 10, Chu Lai, landed on May 7, 1965 off the Tom Green County LST -1159, in charge of the machines shop trailer

  52. Army, Chu Lai 1967 – 1968, 588 Maint. Co. Good friends were- Billy Merrill, Jimmy Clark, Jeff Butterworth, and can’t forget “Snag” Thompson! Hope you are all well!

      1. I was with 596 Maintenance , repairing mine detectors, from July 71 til the base shut down after Typhoon Hester. Then to 578 Maintenance in Danang

    1. I was with 588th 68-69. I remember Butterworth and Snag. I was the dispatcher in the motor pool. I’m not good with names but I remember Bill Smith.

  53. I was at Chu Lai 68-69 MAG 12 MABS 12 MOS 3371. I went by “Dallas” back then. I mailed a box home that has letters and stuff and my photo album. It never made it. It always makes me sick, knowing it’s gone after all of these years.

      1. Then you probably came to our mess hall. We saw several Sea Bees and soldiers from the Americal Division in our mess hall. So I guess we were doing something right. Welcome Home Brother.

    1. Phil, my name is Ada Castonguay. my husband was stationed at Chu Lai from May 1969 to about March 1970 when he was transferred to Japan. I have been trying to find someone, anyone, who knew him while in Vietnam. He died from Lymphatic Melanoma in April 1998. Like a nut, I had us burn all our letters before we moved to Maryland after his tour in Vietnam/Japan and so there is a year of his life gone. I understand how you must feel after your letters and photos etc were lost. Makes me sick that I had us burn those letters. I am sure they would have given me answers to many of my questions over the years.

      Tom was a Corpsman with MAG13. I don’t know why he was transferred to Japan but I suspect it had something to do with his buddy being killed by a rocket while in Chu Lai. I have no idea though if this is it. If you know anything about Tom and his time in Chu Lai, please please let me know. I don’t want war secrets, just information on Tom. When he came home, he was QUIET. oh my quiet. He remained that way the rest of our marriage. I would love any information you could share with me on my husband, if you knew him.

      In the mean time, thank you for your service. That was one war we should NEVER have been in but the “powers that be” thought we should be. I appreciate you and your service and wish you well going forward. God bless you. Ada Castonguay

    1. What section. I was with strength and accounting section Nov 67 to June 68. Boyd Mchaffy, Jeff Kenney and Kenny Hatfield were also in my section. My houch was the one hit by the 122MM in early 68. I was on guard duty in the bunker on the beach when it was hit.

  54. My dad was there from 67-69 with the Marines. I got his zippo dated 1967 and a nice engraving. He passed from agent orange exposure caused parkinsons in 2010. I have been trying to 10 years to find anyone who remembers him. He never talkad about Nam so we have very little info other than pictures and a couple lockers full of stuff he brought home. I have his uniform. He was a Sgt. My mom said he used to wake up fighting and screaming from nightmares. This went on for years till they divorced in 75. My dad was always distant but Ive learned why. My heart goes out to all Vietnam vets and the Hell they were put thru.

    1. I was in Chu Lai sep 68 – 69. Worked at Ke Ha tower and Admin pad. Hundreds maybe thousands came to admin pad for transportation to surrounding LZ’s Quin Yon, Duc pho, Danang..Bob Hope show came in in Dec 68 with Ann Margaret.

  55. I was in the USN assigned to “Operation Market Time” aboard Swift Boats in Chu Lai from September to December 1968. Great Base and plenty of action in the patrol areas. PCF-12 and PCF-75.

    1. I was in several different Marine Corps Cap units outside of Chu Lai (68-69). Got Ischemic heart disease from agent orange. I didn’t know agent orange caused it until 2019. Thanks to the VA, I’m being compensated for it. You Vietnam Vets out there having any problems check with the VA

      1. The VA just added two new illness with presumed agent orange exposure. One of them is High Blood Pressure. Also Type 2 Diabetes is presumed to be from agent orange. If you have either file with VA for Disability benefits ASAP. It may not be but a couple of Hundred bucks, but we earned it. Many others conditions are also elegible. Go to VA site.

      2. i was with naval air support unit and have a ischemic and also parkinson disease from agent orange . i was there in 67 and 68, i think, can not remember without looking it up. by the way , it was in chu lai also.

      3. i was at naval air support unit,chulai 67,68. i also have a ischemic heart disease from agent orange. i also have parkinson disease from the same.

        1. My name is Allan Sisco. I was in Naval Air Support Unit Chu Lai from May 66 to February 67. Just wondering if we were there at the same time. I was SK3 at the time. I have Parkinsonism, diabetes, previous prostate cancer and a lot of other issues.

          1. Interesting. I was an FUO patient (fever of unknown origin) 105-degree fever in Chu Lai early 69. Had many related afflictions over the years but always undiagnosed. Never been to VA hospital Don’t know where to turn.

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