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.
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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.