Mang Yang Pass and Dak Po KM15 mark

The Mang Yang pass was the main choke point along QL19 between Pleiku and An Khe, located about halfway, convoys had to negotiate this narrow and steep pass as they supplied the large bases in Pleiku. VC and PAVN troops would often stage ambushes or at least place snipers that would harass the passing convoys. It was a never ending mission for the U.S. forces to protect the convoys from Quy Nhon via the An Khe Pass and The Mang Yang Pass up to Pleiku. Countless operations, small and large, were launched including patrolling and clearing the mountain tops overlooking the passes.

Please click images for slideshow

Along the road a number of camps were established such as LZ Schueller and LZ Action to protect the convoys and keep the enemy at bay. They would also cover the pump stations for the oil pipeline that supplied Pleiku.

7 kilometers east of the Mang Yang Pass at the Kilometer 15 site on the 24th June 1954 the French Mobile Group 100 force were in a controlled retreat from the east highland plains from Anh Khe to the town of Pleiku. Here The Viet Minh sprung a major ambush on the French force, who for their survival fled south into the jungle.  The Viet Minh aggressively pursued and by the time the French survivors arrived in Pleiku 50% of the force had been killed or wounded

Other names for this event are the Battle for Mang Yang or the Battle of Anh Khe.  But arguably the most accurate location description would be the Battle of Dak Po.  Today, a large monument to the Viet Minh stands at the site 15km west of Anh Khe.

Also worth a short stop is the bridge over the Dak Ya ayun river just west of the Mang Yang pass. This is where the 108th Viet Minh Regiment again hit the Mobile Group 100 as they had assembled in to a column again to break through to Pleiku. There is not a monument on the site as we know of.

Today, the drive through the pass down to An Khe and all the way out to Quy Nhon by the coast is a beautiful and easy ride. The road is in relatively good condition and there is not too much traffic.

 

How to get there

The Mang Yang Pass is located about 22 kilometers west of An Khe town and the ambush site is located 15 kilometers west of An Khe. Anyone who travels along the QL19 between Pleiku and Quy Nhon will pass both locations. The monument at the ambush site is on the south side of the road on the small pass. On the top of the hill one is presented with a great view of the surroundings in all directions with the Mang Yang Pass in the west.

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16 thoughts on “Mang Yang Pass”

  1. Was reminiscing this afternoon, here at my home in Palmdale, Ca. A good day to contemplate and stumbled upon this website.
    Yours is the first website with many a comment and comments on the area I spent a year of my life.
    I was attached to Charlie and Delta Battery’s , 5/16th Arty, 4th ID, early April of ’69 to late March of ’70 and part of both battery’s FDC.
    Traveled Mang Yang Pass, convoys and march orders, many times from Pleiku to An Khe,. Spent time with both Charlie and Delta at LZ Schueller. I have a couple photos I could send to you taken at LZ Schueller. One of friendly fire out of Camp Radcliff and another of a pipeline that was hit on the Pass.
    Too young and stupid to think how dangerous this pass was. And yes, aware of the French Legions massacre there in ’54 and stories of ghosts that were heard throughout the pass.

    1. Thank you for your service, brother. I was there at the end of your tour, working the pass daily as a “spook.” I would have been the guy in a lone ARVN marked jeep with my “yard” interpreter and dog collecting counterintelligence info for convoy security. So, when you heard the 155s and 105s from Radcliff hammering the jungle near you at night, that was me working probable NVA artillery positions. Possibly you were called upon to provide fire on my markers as well. When the operation into Cambodia ended, I moved over to the east side of Radcliff providing CI for base security until the 4th Infantry’s flag was lowered in Dec 1970. I didn’t know then about the 1954 ambush and the ghost stories. Coincidentally, it was 7 klicks east of the pass that I had my first close call. While walking through the defoliated area alongside Hwy. 19 to talk to one of my cowboy sources, I walked into a bunch of unexploded “grasshoppers.” My interpreter made it back to the highway but couldn’t operate the radio. He flagged down a convoy escort who called the EOD guys out of Radcliff. In the meantime I stood there not moving a muscle for the better part of two hours until the EOD team arrived and removed several dozen of those little bastard Bouncing Bettys, all of them live. That had to be very close to the 1954 ambush site. I’m glad I didn’t know about the ghosts. Thanks again.

  2. 7 kilometers east of the Mang Yang Pass at the Kilometer 15 site on the 24th June 1954 the French Mobile Group 100 force were in a controlled retreat from the east highland plains from Anh Khe to the town of Pleiku. Here The Viet Minh sprung a major ambush on the French force, who for their survival fled south into the jungle. The Viet Minh aggressively pursued and by the time the French survivors arrived in Pleiku 50% of the force had been killed or wounded.

    Not sure your description of mang yang pass, km15 is accurate. Ambush site is not 7 km from mang yang pass. it is 7 km from km22. Please verify

    1. Hey, not much to say. The ambush took place at the km 15 marker. They have even built a large monument on the site. Many Yang pass is 22 km west of An Khe town.

  3. I was with the 538 engineers land clearing we would yo-yo down the mountain pass and shave all the tops of the hills mostly remember the giant dragonflies they were all over the pass I was there 69 and 70

  4. I was in the 4th Infantry 1969-1970 and traveled through the Mang Yang pass as we withdrew from Pleiku to An Khe. It was a sobering experience knowing what happened to the French. Even though its beautiful in the mountains, I have NO desire to return. My travel home involved a few hospitals. Again, quite a bit of history there.

    1. Thank you for your comment Tommy and for sharing some insight in to how it was to travel through this area during the war. I am happy you made it out. Thank you also for visiting our website, I hope you enjoy reading our articles and looking at the pictures. We’ll add more over time, we have a few more II Corps locations coming up soon also.

    2. I was on a convoy that was moving 4th Infantry Division to An Khe in March of 1970. I spent 3 months with Alpha Company 2nd Battalion 35th Infantry Cacti Blue. Then 4 months with G1, 4th Infantry at Camp Mark Enari before helping us move to An Khe for my last 7 months in country.
      The thing I remember most other than loading all the desk and chairs form our office in 4th Division headquarters was that the French (and Germans I guess) soldiers killed there were burried standing up facing France. I was thinking “Great” but if I am killed go ahead and let me lay down please.

  5. Hello- just discovered your site via the Washington Post article. So happy to see this, and this is a project I’ve long wanted to do. I live in Saigon and sometimes take motorcycle trips to lesser known sites. I may be doing a trip from Saigon to Hanoi this summer; let me know if there’s anything I can recon for you! Stephen

  6. I commanded a 5-man MAT (Mobile Advisory Team) in Pleiku Province in 1970-71. Mang Yang Pass was the eastern end of our Area of Operations. From the top of the mountain overlooking the pass, we could look north to see the rows-and-centers grave sites of the French Foreign Legion soldiers that were buried there. I was told there were 1800 graves, and mostly Germans, as they had joined their old enemy’s Army after WW II, having no homes or jobs to go home to. My Montagnard counterpart spoke German, as well as French, Vietnamese, and seven dialects of Montagnard, with no formal education. I had advised the small Vietnamese unit posted there to improve their poorly-kept defenses, to no avail. Two weeks later, they were annihilated. We were also ambushed just west of the pass in our team Jeep, after we caught up to an American convoy that had a fuel truck damaged by a mine. There were quad .50 calibers on the front and rear gun trucks of the convoys. One Vietnamese civilian truck was between us and the rear gun truck. We took fire from small arms and B-40 rockets, which exploded to both sides of us. I had initially thought that they were mortars. The convoy and the VN truck all stopped and we were sitting ducks for a few moments. A Vietnamese M-48 tank on a stationary road guard position barrelled toward the fray and we quickly quelled the source of fire. I remember the full auto hot M-16 casings pouring down the back of my shirt from my Montagnard interpreter as I was driving and shooting to the left, or south. Our great Light Weapons Advisor Sergeant was firing his M-79 grenade launcher from the shotgun seat, across the front of the windshield, as we had a canvas top. Fun times. It ended with no friendly casualties, just some holes in the tanker gasoline truck, which the soldiers plugged with wood pegs. Fun times, exciting.

    1. Monty, thanks for sharing. That is quite a story. That road from Pleiku towards Mang Yang, An Khe and eventually Quy Nhon is filled with history. I hope to get back there one day and spend even more time documenting more places. Thank you for visiting our website. I hope you found it informative.

    1. Thanks Thomas.More is definitely coming. We have recently added some more pages to the III Corps and IV Corps sections. A few more will be added there during the next few weeks as we finish everything up. Make sure to check out the videos as well. Lots of great info there.This is a long term project for us so we will keep adding information over time.

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