Located in the remote parts of the western Quang Nam province, then Quang Tin, Kham Duc was a US Special Forces Camp. The camp was one of a large number of Special Forces Camps located along the Laotian and Cambodian border, placed there to oversee enemy infiltration from the Ho Chi Minh Trail as well as function as a launch point for missions in to Laos. U.S. Special Forces and local CIDG forces were the main body of soldiers stationed at the camp including support functions.
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The camp saw some heaavy fighting as PAVN forces tried to overrun it. In 1968 a very large battle took place and in 1970 PAVN sappers attacked again. Only 8 kilometers south along the highway the observation post Ngok Tavak was located. The old runway still stretches along the town which itself is built where the Special Forces camp was located.
This is a great place to visit for the history traveler. There is at least one hotel of decent standard and it also has a good restaurant. Visiting here would typically be done by people traveling through between Da Nang and Kon Tum and we strongly recommend a stop here. For the veteran there is a lot to see with the old runway and berms still around. One can easily spend a couple of hours walking the whole runway and climbing the berms. Any remains of the camp as such are gone as the town has been built on the camp area.
War history buffs will also be interested in that it was from Kham Duc that the Finnish Special Forces legend Lauri Törni, also known as Larry Thorne, took off the tragic day his CH-34 helicopter crashed in to a mountain side killing the whole crew. Törni’s remains was discovered in 1999 and brought to USA where he now is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
How to get there
Both Kham Duc and Ngok Tavak are possible to visit with Kham Duc being a mining town today. Located in the remote mountains of Quang Nam it is recommended to stay over night for anyone who wants to visit. It is a full day’s trip from either Da Nang on the coast or Kon Tum in the central highlands.