Lai Khe Base Camp

Along route QL13, also known as Thunder Road, there were a string of bases during the war. One of the most important ones was Lai Khe, which served as base camp for the 1st Infantry Division from 1965-1972 along with several other American units over different periods of time. The base camp was the headquarters for the 3rd Brigade with the division headquarters not far away in Di An. The other brigades were stationed at Quan Loi, Phuoc Vinh and Dau Tieng. It was a well chosen site, right on the highway, and together with its large runway and relative proximity to Saigon, supplies could be brought in fairly easily via both road and air. Another 70 kilometers up the road, a Special Forces Camp was located in Loc Ninh.

Being located so close to Saigon meant it was an important part of the city’s outer defenses as PAVN forces later in the war would push down QL13 during its attacks. At one point, it was one of the most active areas when it came to PAVN and VC activities. Being so close to the Iron Triangle, it also meant that many operations were launched from the base even as it was a constant target for enemy attacks.

In fact, Lai Khe was probably the most rocketed base camp in the country except for Khe Sanh during the siege. At times, the camp would receive incoming rockets three times per day and twice per night and there was a sign at the main gate reading: ‘Welcome to Rocket City’.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be much left around the old base area, however if you know what you are looking for then you can still find evidence of this massive installation’s existence. On the east side of the highway there is mostly rubber plantations today. Due to it being very muddy we couldn’t drive around there as much as we had liked. As the camp areas were located among the rubber trees and the main roads inside the plantation are the same as they were then, one will get a good understanding of what it looked like back then. Please view below video from our latest visit at the camp for a good view of what the site of the camp looks like today.

The west side of the camp is another story. There one will find the old water purification compound along with the Brigade HQ and admin buildings. We are not sure but believe also the general’s quarters are still there. Furthermore the large gate along the highway is still there and one of the main bunkers. Driving around in the area west of the highway one will also find large concrete slabs that clearly are remains from the era.

Inside the camp, some of the older trees carry marks of shrapnel from the countless rocket attacks. The perimeter roads are still possible to drive on along with the bypass road on the east side of the camp outside the old minefield.

Lai Khe Base Camp should be on the list to visit for any history traveler It is a quality visit with much to see and its historical significance should not be under estimated.

 

How to get there

Lai Khe is located about 60 kilometers north of Saigon along QL13 towards An Loc and Loc Ninh. It’’s a nice half day visit to go up there and back, or a full day trip for those who wants to venture further north and visit the other bases that were located along the road.

Decimal Coordinates 11.195, 106.617

 

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148 thoughts on “Lai Khe Base Camp”

  1. Over 50 yrs I’ve been home and I can still see those damn rubber trees!
    Was a door gunner on a slick. Served in 69 there with a co 227th ahb,1st cav. Gonna vist the place this fall. Got to see it one more time

  2. Gerry Steffen 1/28th inf sept 69 for about 5 months then transferred to I believe 2/28 both 1st inf then colors sent home got transferred to Americal div volunteered for door gunner got into a Chinook company in Chu Lai .Our company suffered the greatest loss of life in 1 crash as they were trying to wind the war down ,I believe 31 guys lost their lives by a miracle one pilot was walking in our company area the next day.You can read about it if you Google Chinook crash Sept of 70 .

  3. ******* I was with the 1st MP Company in Di’an 2.68- 8.68 then to Lai Khe. I was at the South Entrance with SP4/Sgt Ives in Oct. 68, then switched to the Nite Duty at Village Gate util 11.29- My Birthday – previous Guy was Jittery about being alone at Night with 2 Fill in’s from S& T plus one Arvn type. Nearly got Shot by a Drunken Militiaman one night. Went thru a Typhoon one night,. Listened to Election returns from the States there over AF Radio out of Saigon.

    ******* Left to be with B- 1/16th Mechd. on 11/29 at FSB Reilly at Chanh Luu Village South of Bandit Hill. My partner was Bob Gerrish from Upstate NY. Almost bought the Farm one afternoon South of that Hamlet. They had Tunnels Everywhere and some tried to get behind us. Our SVN MP saved us. He was older and more Alert as We got too used to the area. I remember the People, Incredibly Poor. I gave One Bar of Soap to a Woman. She thought it was Gold.

    *****While IN DiAn I made Several Convoys to LK and further North to Quan Loi Where We always stayed overnight. In 9/68 I was at the North End of LK Every day for 10+ hours with Palmeiri from Syracuse, NY- Just South of the old French Block House . One day the Entire 13th Armd Cav came thru down 13 probably via Ben Cat to Bandit Hill area.

    ********1/16th were Reflagged from a Unit in the 9th Div. They came North in Oct.68- I was at the South Entrance when they arrived. Every Day I had to Direct Traffic there and Years later I got Skin Cancer from it- positive. One reason I switched to Nights was that I was Burned from that oeriod. I am of Irish Extraction but could have passed for a Filipno.

    ******** One Night at the Village Gate a Guy who was with Artillary came by. He WAS Filipino but in the US Army- a SSG, He had been in LK in 1965 and had returned after 2 + years. He said He had a Kid now 3 years old in the Village- Against Orders of course, I let him in.

    1. I arreived in Di An in mid Feb 68. They tested their sirens every day at noon. Assigned to the 2/2 I headed to Lai Khe. All the processors in Di An wished us good luck in Rocket City.
      Processing in at Lai Khe one guy’s first question, “Do you test you sirens here?” “No . Our sirens go off a few times a day and they’re all for real. ”
      We were out side Bn S1 being processes when we heard a muffled explosion. The two clerks glanced at each other. A minute latter a loader explosion. One clerk to the other, “That sounded like incomiming?” Other clerk, ” If it were incoming why hasn’t someone blown the siren. ” Just then BLAM, JUST A FEW HOOCHES AWAY. One clerk yelled, “It’s incoming! Our sector! Blow the fucking siren!”
      Sort of shook my faith in the Lai Khe early warning system. I was a lot happier in the bush than basecamp.

      1. ******* I departed LK on 12/24/68- MedEvac with a Dying Young VC. He expired 4 Minutes out of Long Binh and the 24th Evac. Hospital. I was under 60 Days then. I knew I might not return. 2+ days later I was in Camp Drake,Japan.

    2. pete as an ambulance driver for c co 1st med bn i was all over that place almost every day!! cant recognize much in this vidieo but i know the place as it was then well there from feb 69 till dec 69

  4. I was with the 701st at Lai Khe from August 69 to January 70. Had a 5 man contact team attached to C, 1/16 on and off over the 6 months. In the Fall a Special Forces team discovered a M-41 tank buried in the jungle 8 miles west of Lai Khe. I was the “tank expert” who was willing to see if it could be started. SOP was to haul it out with a M88 Tank Retriever, but CBS was filming and hoped we (my E-6 and I) could get it started, for “ good propaganda purposes”. We suggested winching it out, but the OIC prevailed in convincing us to try. We had no luck after working on it for several hours. It was winched out the next day. My battalion commander chewed me out for not following SOP. I explained that the OIC asked us to try. He yelled, “Who the hell was that?” I replied Lieutenant General Mildren. He looked at my Staff Sergeant who nodded in agreement, said nothing, and dismissed us. In January, I was reassigned to the 1st Cavalry in Phuoc Vinh, and secured a Branch Immaterial assignment operating Sniffer Missions on the Cambodian border. Lai Khe was more visually appealing than Phuoc Vinh, with the French Buildings and architecture. Phuoc Vinh was a dump. Yet of all the rockets while I was in Lai Khe, an hour on the hour barrage in Phouc Vinh in the Spring of ‘70 wounded/ killed 16.

  5. I was not assigned to Lai Khe, but was there TDY, twice for a court martial, I was an Air Force Security Policeman from TN Son Nhut AB. The first time I traveled to Lai Khe was by army jeep up highway 13, a very interesting ride to say the least. My second trip was by chopper also a very interesting trip. I do remember the chow hall and the nearby ammo dump. A SFC with the Big Red One gave me a tour of the base, and asked me if I could get a Chicom SKS back to the states when I rotated, I told him I could so he gave me one. I begged him for one of the 9mm he had with a red star on the handle, but he said he couldn’t give me one. It was a very interesting time and trip for.

  6. I was in Lai Khe from Jan 1969 to Mar 1970. I returned home about a month before the BRO was scheduled to leave. I was with HHSB 2/33rd Arty. I spent the first 6-7 months as Dungeon 52 communicating with various FSBs. I spent my last 7-8 months as AWCC, Lai The Arty. I remember being told that we received the second most number of rocket and mortar attacks.

    My wife and I took a Gate1 Travel tour of Vietnam in 2016 visiting Saigon, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay and Hanoi. It was a very different country than it was on my first tour there.

    1. Jim,
      I served 2/33 HHSB leaving June 1969 as Dungeon 3T.
      Do I remember you as also from Chicago. Perhaps you remember McQueen Stralka or Bartee? Did you visit Lai Khe?
      Did I put you on shit burning detail?

  7. My brother was at Lai Khe from 1966 – 1967 with the First Infantry Division, 6th. Field Artillery. His name is George R. Carter and he passed away about two years ago, but I do remember him talking about the ammo dump being burned by some VC terrorists, and him and some of his friends tried to put the fire out and the last thing that he remembered was his being sent home with burns all over the back side of his arms and body. He did recover from his burned body, but never did tell me anymore than that, but he was demoted from Sgt. to Cpl. and I thought that it was kind’ve sad but he never talked much about the Army or Vietnam after that!

  8. I was in Lai Khe Sept. 67 to April 68…………HHC 3rd Brigade…………S-3 Operations Duty NCO and Duty Officer for the Brigade at night ( only Spec 5)…..ran the “Duty” net……..before Tet I used to sound a siren for incoming mortars………….too many and too revealing after Tet……………I never saw any mention of the Officer’s Club bombing until now……….seems to me we lost quite a few officers……….it was handled by MP’s not Operations,……………..had a semi-permanent $2 hooker in the shopping center………… got my first promotion was from Gen. Joulwan in 67 in Phuoc Vinh……….my boss during Tet was Gen Trobaugh……… Joulwan was then Capt. and Trobaugh was a major…………both were good people……… Thanks everybody

  9. I was there August 1969-Nov 1970, 701 maintenance battalion. Yes remember the rocket attacks. Pulling guard duty on the back side of the village and seeing those fireballs come in was something. That was the darkest area I can remember. Traveled to Chu Chi and out past the black virgin mountain, to the Cambodian boarder as fast as those tanks would run. But am glad y’all made it home .

  10. Lai khe 68–69 595 remember sg Jackson when he left sg Davis took his spot best I remember. Remember D. Grant al so. Thanks for pictures and comments

  11. I was with Bravo Co 2/28th Jan 67 to Dec 67. Our home was on west side of Hwy 13 at the far north end of base. Not much time in Lai Khe but in tents first month or so I was there and wooden barracks after that. Lost a lot of good friends. You guys are not forgotten. Have looked for years for Ernie “Chrome Dome” Johnson from NYC. Bless all who served and thanks to you Robin Hood guys for the rides.

  12. Hi Jonas. I have numerous pictures of Lai Khe Village and Lai Khe Base Camp on my Facebook Picture albums. I was there in 1967 with the Big Red 1. You have my contact information if you would like to have any of my pictures.
    I hope that you are well.

    1. Thanks Gary. Yes I have gone through your pictures. You have a lot of great pictures there. I will need to work something out how we could make a story out of it.

    2. Hi Gary. I’d love to see those pics. Got there early feb 68. Didn’t have time for pictures. I regret that now Transferred our sep 68

  13. I was with 1st AG postal. Our group was responsible for getting all the divisions mail out to the various companies. APO 96345 and 96289. Our postal hooch was across from division hg. My first night in Lai Khe sappers got in and blew up a group of the little spotter choppers. I was in spring 1968 before going to DiAn later. Rocket every day and nite it seemed like. I remember some companies falling out in the morning to police shrapnel. Also remember B-52 bombers blanketing the area constantly at night. As soon as they would finish here would come some more rockets. Slept in our bunker many a night. Terribly hot but somewhat safer.

    1. I was in the 1st infantry div. (mechanized) in 68 Based in Lai Khe when Nixon landed . We had to pour diesel fuel on the tanks to make them shine . No one knew why or what was going on. We had to clear an LZ for a chopper that no one knew who was aboard . It was in the middle of the jungle. If I remember it was Dian (Zee on).. The guy left the presidency in disgrace, but we all loved him that day. He lived 10 mi. From me when he moved to Saddle River NJ .

  14. I believe my grandfather was killed there but am unsure. He was in 2/28 1ID in 65, his name was SFC Jerald Dozier. My family cant find anything about the location other than it was at a U-shaped airfield. Can you offer any information?

    1. Hello Andrew. I could get some information on the virtualwall.org but it didn’t say where he was killed. I will see if I can find any other sources. Please email me on namwartravel@gmail.com Let’s see what we can come up with.
      Jonas

  15. My husband, James H. Mulhern, was in Lai Khe from July 67-Aug 68. He was with the Chaplain’s office then. He passed away from Agent Orange in May 2012. He suffered from PTSD until the day he died. I have two albums of photos from his time at Lai Khe, a lot showing all the rocket damage. Thank you for this site. I wish he could have seen it.

  16. I remember Lai Khe well. I was with the 173rd AHC, Robin Hoods in 68 -69. Call sign Crossbow 33. When I got there we were living in tents and by the time I rotated we had built our own hooches, erected a water tower behind our platoon and had hot and cold running water, flush toilets and a/c. After missions you would see all the helicopters split in different direction to go trading for supplies we needed to build with. I guess if we were to wait for the engineers, we would still be living in tents.

    1. Sorry, but Sherwood Forest never had flush toilets (no water, no septic system) and all the hootches were done by the the Spring of 968 and built with the help of the 168th Engineers. And Bruce Peters was Crossbow 33 the first half of 1968. And I don’t remember you for squat and I was ther from July 1966 to September 1968.

  17. I was with HHC 1/28th 1st Inf Div 3/69 to 2/70. I am heading back to Vietnam in February 2020. I have a day trip out of Saigon(HMC) scheduled to visit Lai Khe.

  18. Brings back memories. I was there from March 68 to March 69 withe the 173RD AHC (Robin Hoods) of the 1ST Aviation Brigade (Army for you civilians). Yes, it was definitely Rocket City.

    1. Thank you for your air support . When pinned down and no place to get out of line of fire . The chop chop sound of your gun ships as you flew in firing rockets and mini guns would break the back of the Nva and we would get a new lease on life. . I was in lai khe 68/69 so we had your support as well as sidewinder scout spotter planes who would fly into area we called in and mark with w/p or smoke. The jets with napalm would rain hell on the area. Napalm worked so well. The enemy made it ilegal at end of 68. We lost more men when we stopped napalm

  19. OK looks good, I was in Lai Khe in 1969 with the 168 engr and went back in 1970
    The 168 engr had went back to the USA, so I just went over to the 554 engr to stay there till they left to bal loc on QL20 in camp brown ,I was the gate keeper at camp Brown,
    I am also SP5 Brown from NC near Fort Bragg, after camp Brown we went up the hill to camp wood stock, I also was the gate keeper there till Dec 1971,
    a note: I am the Second American to return to Vietnam after the war, I have made some 200 trips there working on the POW/MIA case for the DIA,
    I am also the person who was Solving the MIA mystery inside Hanoi’s Secret Archives back in the 80’s and 90’s, When Our government was trying to get Information for 30 years ,I solve their problem in no time with over 12000 photos
    of missing POW and MIA’s That is about it for me now if you like to see some of the photos just ask. Lai Khe is built up so fast you don’t know where you are when you go back to see the old sites .air strip has been gone for years ,.

    1. My husband Richard Krohn was with 18th and 20th Engineers 1970. So long ago but still seems like yesterday.

  20. My father was Division Surgeon LTC Arthur Buswell , from 67-68. He made numerous photos, recordings, and home movies. I’m in the process of trying to get them transferred, as all his old equipment that he used is now Fubar.

  21. Intersting notes from all of the above.

    I was assigned to Lai Khe as USAF Sgt., with Sidewinders, a Forward Air Control team attached to 3rd Brigade. Arrived March ’69. Requested reassignment in October, as a result of the death of 1st Inf. Division Commanding General, MG Keith Ware, Friday 13th, September, 1968. Spent Oct. ’68-March ’69 with Adv. Team #55 in Rach Gia, Kieng Gaing Prov., west coast, Mekong.

    Our AF hooch at Lai Khe ended up a party hooch for everyone. We built an extension, with the help of Army. The flooring was made up of 4′ sq., interlocking aluminum runway sections (maybe $1,200 ea.), grill, etc. The Black Lions hooch was next door. We faced the open space in front of the stage where Bob Hope played in ’67. Our motto: ” Non Est Prispiro-WETSU” (loosely…”Don’t Sweat It-We Eat This Shit Up”)

    Newly arrived, one night we spent the dark hours in the bunker, hiding from Russian 122mm rockets and mortars. Being an FNG, I asked if the marks on the railroad ties supporting the wall indicated the number of rockets? Nah, the four marks with a fifth crossing indicated the number of attacks, and there were lots of units of fives all over the place. The explained each attack had 50-75 rockets which were too many to count. They just kept track of the number attacks, the number of times they dropped in the bunker.

    After a couple tries, I made a recording of a rocket attack. When we were back above ground, like a dummy, I rewound the tape and played it back to hear what was recorded. All the AF guys were standing around, eager to hear. Army guys were slowly walking past our hooch, back to wherever they had to go. As the tape started, the base camp warning siren came on…a solid wailling….”Rocket Attack!” Through our open screens, everybody outside heard the siren go off, again, and beat feet for the nearest cover. I immediately (and sheepishly) shut off the recorder. Our guys shouted to the guys hitting the dirt, “Hey, it’s all-clear. Just a recording.” The Army guys were not amused.

    First return to Viet Nam (it’s a country, not a war), was March 1989. Been living part-time since, traveling, teaching (in English). Started out in Saigon, then started living in Ha Noi. Been back to LK three times. First time, March ’89, almost stepped on a mortar right where our AF hooch used to stand, which was right across from the HQ building. Until some smart guy built the underground TOC (which flooded one night), the AF radios room was the last office in the “H” of the old building.

    At the southern end of the active runway were the revetments for our tail-dragging, O-1E “Bird-Dog”. The OV-10 Broncos arrived in May ’68, I think. They didn’t stay overnight. (read, “A Lonely Kind of War,” by Marshall Harrison, who flew OV-10s out of LK, ’69). Where our revetments stood is now an elementary school built by the Vietnam Children’s Fund (vietnamchildren.org). Their goal: put an elem. school in every province. Started by former Marine, Terry Anderson, (AP Bureau Chief, spent 444 days captured in Tehran, Iran). There’s a secondary school next to the elem. The runway’s basically gone.

    Second run to LK, May ’03, put under house-arrest a few hours by the local sheriff. He didn’t like Westerners snooping in his village. Returned next day with government sanctioned tour guide to visit the elementary school, as I knew the program staff in Ha Noi. No problem getting access with “authorized” tour guide. The sheriff had a fit.

    In May 2006, met the Vice-director of the Rubber Research Institute of Viet Nam (they spent ’65-’75 in Da Nang). They gave me a tour of the old French lab, used as Brigade HQ and area. Original lab was built by French in 1941. It’s been rebuilt very similar as the original building. I rephotographed the HQ in ’68 (seconds after a 122 mm rocket went through the roof), and the same spot in ’06. In March 2015, I gave a presentation at History Colorado, in Denver, “The American War in Viet Nam: Then and Now,” using ’68 and current photos.

    Quite a few stories about LK and times there, then, and recently. Some photos of LK and other locations during my tour are on my web site, http://onesoldiersheart.com/Photographs/Photographs.html.

    Ted Engelmann
    Sidewinder 33 Alpha

    1. Ted,

      Thanks……………our 3rd Brigade Tactical Operations Center was in that Michelin lab …………..we had a small office and a foyer……….a few feet down the hall was a very big room…………in that room were a few desks and radios for the AF FAC operations…………..out the door and a few feet north (?) of the road was the E 5 hooch of about 20 -30 bunks…………next to our hooch was AF hooch-5-6 men……….individual rooms………tvs…………fridges etc…………next to their hooch was the hooch for the Red Cross “Donut Dollies” one night ( just before Tet or introducing Tet ?) we had 3 Russian 122 mm rockets land 100-150 feet away toward the Bob Hop stage…………..1st time for something that big……….sounded just like the 88 German guns on “Combat”…………scared the crap out of me 60 or 82 landed right outside our foyer…… not scared……… pissed

  22. Was with Alpha Co, 2nd Bn, 28th Inf, 1st Inf Div. from Sep 68 to Sep 69. Spent most of my time in the field (Junction City, Aachen, NDP Julie). Was the Alpha Co Forward Observer and then the 2nd Bn Artillery Liaison Officer.

    1. Thank you for your comment Warren and thank you for visiting our website. I am glad you made it out.I have never heard of Aachen, was that an operation? Which other base camps would you also spend time at? We have FSB Buttons, Phuoc Vinh and Quan Loi covered here as well. Cu Chi is an active People’s army base today so no way to get pictures from there.

  23. Stationed at lai khe May 69 to may70. With 595 signal. We operated the site next to the micro wave tower. Like to hear from anyone who remembers sgt. harris. Locals were not that friendly as I remember it.

    1. Bill hooten I was with the 314th as well and got medical April 27th 70, Charles harvey, beau wiseman, sneep etc

  24. Served 314th Avation Support Detachment (Air Traffic Control) May 69 – May 70.

    I was controlling the day all aircraft headed West to invade Cambodia under Nixon authority. Quite a day.

    1. I served in the First Division, 1969-1970. I will be visiting Saigon in November and would love to go see Lai Khe area. Any idea how to get there.

  25. Cooked for big red one in 1969 to 1970 I was part of 595 co have a buddy that was a med in big red one I went by the name duke peace and love to all my Vietnam brothers

  26. My dad was there, April 1967 – April 1968; flew for a short time with 173 Assault Helicopter Company, Robin Hood’s. Major Vic Johnson. I was 13 then, like a lot of Army brats always worried about him coming back home. Dad is 86, 87 next month, and has vivid memories/stories about his time with Robin Hood’s. I would love to one day see where he was, regardless of what remains. Dad did two tours, January -December 1963 was his first. Like a lot of army/military families of that time, Vietnam is a part of us all, whether you still hate it or accept the time and love it. God bless all of us who experienced the times.
    Dave Johnson

  27. Was with C Troop, 1/4 Cav 10/68 to 10/69. First job there would correctly be called “midnight auto supply”. Get the needed materials any way possible. Through channels, through trade, through we don’t know this guy. Didn’t really report to anyone and no one really knew what I was doing but they were all happy that their vehicles and weapons were functioning. Then went to third platoon (voluntarily) and everyone said I was crazy. Then when 1/4 Cav moved from Dian to Lai Khe and C Troop ended up at FSB Doc. Sgt. Herb Rath, Bob Johnson and myself set up a commo base on the perimeter of Lai Khe so we were able to reach the troop and provide logistical support since the rest of the squadron was still in Dian.
    The one night Doc got hit and we were the relay point for artillery and gunship support. Eventually the got a C&C chopper in the air and we were relegated to audio observers. Probably my worst night there. All we could do was listen and pray for the guys out there. At any other time we would have been out there with the rest of the troop.

    1. Thank you for your comment Anthony. You provide some very interesting context to the page. I am glad you made it out.

    2. I was at fsb doc late April 69. Lima plt. B co 1/28. We were pulled out of fb Lorraine and pulled mounted ambush with 11acr . 3 of us were left with a broke down apc out in middle of ground attack. Every time puff lit Ariel flairs I saw Nva drop to the ground when flairs lit the area. I let the Nva drop to ground and fired an m60 machine gun at spot where I saw them go to ground so when they got up to move to another spot. Fighting stopped as sun came up. Spivey and ashline were with me. They were brave soldiers

  28. I was the medic for the 8 inch guns down by the south gate across the airstrip from the ammo dump with D battery 8th bn 6th arty from may 67 to mar 68 a rocket cut my tour 42 days short they always said when you get short is when things happens my name is Donald Boat called Doc Boat

  29. Steve Christensen inLai Khe Sept 67 to Sept 68 2/2 1st inf div, got to stay for all of tet , my hoch was just east of Robinhood chopper pad, their mess took direct hit during tet, lots of rocket, mortar and some small arm fire. Extended 10 days & got ot of service 6 months early.

  30. I was stationed at Lai Khe from July 1969 to April 3rd, 1971. My address was: 1st Infantry Division, Headquarters, & Headquarters Company, Commandant Section, Pioneer Platoon. There were around 25 of us in that unit. We were comparable to a building & landscaping maintenance business like back in the states. We maintained all of the Headquarters buildings, inside and out. There were many French buildings in our area. The largest was a huge French Villa used by the 3 generals and chief of staff for entertaining. The Donut Dollies lived in one of the French buildings as did the USO ladies. One of the buildings was converted to a USO Club Center. One of our many job tasks was painting the interiors of the Villa, Donut Dollies and USO French houses. Our billeting area was close to the West Side perimeter. We would look out and see the Hobo Woods, and Black Virgin Mountain about 50 clicks from our location. Also painted the walls in the briefing room housed in DTOC, Divisional Tactical Operations Command. A huge bunker about 50 feet underground loaded with beaucoup radios and other type of communication equipment. The bunker was sand bagged to the max! No rocket was going to penetrate that bunker unless at least 6 rockets hit the same place. The 1st pulled out of Vietnam around April 7th ,1970 and returned to Fort Riley Kansas. I left Headquarters Company April 3rd and was assigned to the 510 Engineer Company Direct Support, 185th Maintenance Battalion repairing fork lifts until I left Vietnam March 5, 1971. I extended my tour, to take advantage of 150 day or 5 month “early out program.” If you left Vietnam with less than 150 days or 5 months left to serve, you would be processed out of the Army. I left with 4 months 19 days to serve. My total time served in Vietnam was 22months and 6 days, but I wasn’t counting!

  31. I was there at La I Ken March 67 til March 1 1968 was with the 595th Signal..our hooch was in front of the Cross Roads next to the PX

  32. Interesting vistit to Lai khe May 1968 lasted apox 3 days , learned the name Rocket City was well deserved. After 2 wks in country (3 days in Lai Khe) rocket attack May 6th l ended my tour. I would have been with the 451st sig never did get to say good bye.

  33. I was there from Jan. 68 to Jan. 69 in the 121st Signal Battalion. The officers club was blown up right in front of me killing 24 officers and an unknown number of civilian personnel.

    1. Thank you for your comment Bob. I am glad you made it out. Was the officers club close to the white buildings that are visible in the video? I believe those were Brigade HQ buildings, is that correct?

  34. I was in laikhe 67 68 part of 69 I was drafted so I chose to extend my time so I could get the early out rocket city it was for sure I was with the 595 signal corp to my left was the lrrp.s and to my right I had the first infantry I cant remember a lot of the guy.s names but one name I will never forget is sgt Jackson he played a big part in my survival I was a punk kid right off the streets in queen’s ny god bless you sgt Jackson and god bless all our veterans

    1. Dennis, I was at Laikhe 595th Sig. Worked the Swithhboard 3hr per day. Git there Sept 1970 and left Sept 71. I’m in contact with 12 others dating from 1969-1972. I will ask if they recall your name. What did you do in the comcenter?

  35. I was with the 1st MP co there in 1968. arrived in Di-An in December 67 then later transferred to LaiKhe.

  36. I was in Lai Khe in February 1966 to February 1967. 1st engineer battalion A Co. 1st infantry division. I don’t remember much about it but thank you for the video and pics. It brings back a lot of memories good and bad.

    1. Thanks for your comment and for appreciating our work. I am happy we can show veterans like you what some of these places look like today.

  37. Was at Lai Khe in 67-68 with 121 signal. I remember the rocket attacks well. We lost people, vehicles and had sapper attacks. The officers club was satcheled charged. I was walking by the EM club, when charlie started walking the rounds in and everybody was trying to get out of the club at the same time. Now that I look back it was comical, two people trying to get out a window and getting stuck. Another time I was walking down thunder road to catch a hop, when charlie started walking the rounds in. Remember dove in the drainage ditch while watching the explosions.

    1. Irwin, thank you for your comment and visiting our website. I really appreciate you sharing parts of your story here, it must have been tense when the rockets started falling. That is very interesting. I am happy you made it out.Thank you!

      Jonas

    2. I remember that well the officers club was destroyed they had big search lights on all night looking for body’s I was there July 67 – 68

  38. Was at Lai Khe from April 68-Dec 68 got there in the middle of Tet. Served with contact team attached to 701 Maint. Our team was located across street from Cobra gunship pads.

  39. The base was not shrunk; at least at the west side where the 5th ARVN ID headquarters and its supporting units were located. I was with the 8th Regiment located next to the civilian village. After months of long range operations, we were assigned to secure the perimeter. My company covered the North and Northeast of the perimeter.

    1. Michael. Thank you for that information. I was told they had pulled in the perimeter since the ARVN brought in much fewer troops than the US forces had held there.

  40. There from March 67 to April 28 1968 TET … severed with 2nd of 2nd inf Recon platoon turned into and known as REACT ready reaction all volunteer nine tracks five man crew machine guns mounted on the rear m-60 our track was the Boog a Lou kids … what a name😂 My shield read Vegas Kid aces and eights… looking for anyone that served or remember this group … we came in to help any outfit that needed help and set the med evac area up and get you out to safety … 68 TET was almost a daily occurrence and no one knew who we were when we arrived…

  41. I was there from Aug. 68 to Aug.69, I was assigned to 1st Bn ’26 inf 1st ing div (blue spades) we carried out search and destroy missions and ambush patrols out of Lao the

  42. Spent Christmas Eve and New Years Eve 1967 on “interior guard duty” at Lai Khe while most everybody else in our 1st S&T BN detachment was celebrating. 🎉🎊😐😕 Saw Bob Hope Show there about 23 December 1967. 👌👍
    Have been back there in 1997, 2001 & 2011 on battlefield tours.
    Graves Registration Section of 1st S&T BN

    1. Thanks for your comment Jack. I am glad you made it home. I hope you enjoyed your visits back to Vietnam. One of the aims with this website is to show veterans what it looks like there today. For those who are not going back but also inspire some to go back and see the country today. Happy New Year!

    1. Rafael, very interesting. In the pictures and the video, I am going by what I believe is the west perimeter. Is that correct or was it even further from there? I wass under the impression that there were berms there that might have been from the perimeter defence.

  43. Thank You for sharing this information. My father, Ronald W. Wells 1st infantry,(who passed 2 years ago), was stationed there from 1968-1969, during the Tet Offensive. I am trying to learn as much as I can about that area of Vietnam. My father and I we’re extremely close. But he vaguely talked about it to my younger brother and I. I would like to take this time to thank all Vietnam veteran’s for there service. In my eye’s, you are all hero’s to me, and I am extremely proud of all of you, and Love You All.

    1. Ryan, thank you for your comment. I am sorry for the loss of your father. He was there during a very intense period, in one of the most fought over areas in the country. What struck me was how large the Lai Khe Base was. Certainly one of the largest field bases in all of III Corps. It must have gotten a lot of attention from VC and NVA.

  44. I was there in 1970 with Co A 5554th Engr (const) I help build thunder road Layed asphalt and ran a 9 wheel roller……what we asphalt layed during the day have of was blown up at night and we had to in the next day and repair what we did the day before and plus layed more asphalt for them to blow the next night…….

    1. Everette, thanks for visiting our website. Sounds like a frustrating job. Thunder Road is today a main artery for transporta coing down from the mountains with produce and from the rubber plantations. So you were based at Lai Khe? Did you also have to stay over at the bases further north?

      1. Sorry haven’t been back since I posted…..yes I did spend a few night one every now then when we could get back to Lai Khe before dark.

  45. Actually the 1st Infantry Division redeployed stateside in January 1970. In April 1971 a lone Calvary troop left over when the 25th Infantry Division was redeployed stateside, moved into the abandoned airfield on the east side of the highway. There new designation was F-Troop, 4th Air Calvary attached to the 1st Aviation Brigade. Later that summer A-Troop and D-Troops of the 3/17th Air Calvary joined them. An ARVN unit and MACV Team 70 headquarters occupied the portion of the base on the west side of the highway. I was back there in 2008 on assignment with USDA and had a chance to revisit the area. MACV Headquarters is now site of the Vietnam Rubber Research Institute. Parts of our runway are still visible on the east side of the highway behind the commercial buildings where Lai Khe village has expanded across the road. The old rubber plantation containing our hooches has been replaced with younger trees.

    1. Carl. Thank you for your comment and the insights you share. I will do some more research and make sure to update the text. I am happy that our website draws out more detailed information than I have found so far available online.

  46. I was on assignment there in April, 1968 when MLK was killed. That same day a rocket took down the old French Post Office. I had great admiration for the guys in The Big Red One. Love to see a good photo of the old headquarters.
    Liked your video and it did bring back some important memories.
    Thanks.

    1. Thank you for your comment Bruce. I was happy to find some of the old buildings at the site. I will spend more time there next time I get back to see if I can find some more of the old buildings. I’ll post any new finds here on the site.

    2. I was the first person to run in the post office after rocket hit to pull out anyone in there
      Thank no one was in side at the time. That was the tet offensive. October 67 joined the LLRP on south west side of camp. Left Vietnam July 68

  47. Lai-Khe was our base camp in ’70 & ’71, 3/4 Cav, Aero-Rifles. Thanks for the photos, although much of it was unfamiliar, but all in all, pretty decent, except, as was mentioned, rocket & sapper attacks. Thanks again, if I had the money, I’d visit V.N. with my wife, especially Lai Khe & Vung Tau, where a couple of us took in country R & R.

    1. Thank you Dave. As I wasn’t there during the war I wouldn’t know what it loooked like except for photos I have seen. Clearly the village is located where the runway used to be. We came up on the west side of it also to what I believe was the western perimeter. We couldn’t move on the east side as it simply was too wet between the rubber trees. There are plenty of buildings on the site that were there when you were there. I will be back one day to look around some more. There is always more to see. I hope you will come back one day, flights aren’t that expensive.

  48. I was stationed at Lai Khe 69’. A Troop 1/4 CAV. Didn’t like coming to base cause of the damn rockets… nothing to shoot back at.

  49. I was stationed at Lai Khe from Oct 68 to Oct 69 with the 1/16th (mech) Iron Rangers. Thank you for this site. Do you know of any maps of the base camp that show where the various units were housed? My company was next to the heliport on the west side.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Marty. Thank you for your comment. I haven’t seen any good maps of the camp from the era. I sure would like to see one as it makes it even more interesting to discover these sites. If you get your hands on one, would you mind letting me know through the site here?

  50. Of my my. The old Lai Khe Rocket City Base. I spent time from 1970-1971. With the 595th Combat Signal Communications company. First couple weeks getting used to the 55 and 105’s firing out bound. And rockets flying over. July 1971 had a Zapper attack that seemed like the 4th of July. We were at the front gate in our bunkers with m-16’s and 60 Cal. Down right a early morning to remember. I am in contact with 10 great buddies from our old platoon. And had lost 5 already. So would have been 15. So good to talk old good times with them. Any one else out there remember us at Base Switchboard / Communication Center??

    1. Len, thank you for coming to our website and sharing your story. Did you watch the video from where we drive around the old base area? Anything you recognize?

      1. Yes i watched it. Some looked familiar. But changes for sure from my days. I do calendars and music every year for my Brothers and they love it. But running out of old pictures to put in the calendars. Some guys sent me some that helps. But after 30 years doing them not much left. Been getting some from magazines. I shot 200 feet of 8mm and added a soundtrack of songs from 1969-1971. They were blown away. Thanks

        1. Len, thanks for your reply. Yeah, not much to see, especially since they have built over the old runway. There are remains of old berms and such, a few of the houses are still there. Otherwise I believe there is not too much to see. I’d like to walk about the eastern perimeter to poke around in the dirt a bit. I am certain there is a lot to find there. They haven’t really built anything there so still quite untouched.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for visiting our site Wayne. I hope you appreciated the pictures and video. I have wondered where the chopper pad was. Was it on the west side of the runway?

      1. The choppers as I recall were parked on the east side of the runway and the POL dump on the west. I have pictures of the dump as it was hit by rockets and caught fire which burned for several days.

        1. Thank you Steve. I understand better now how it would have looked. I have seen several pictures of the runway but never really understood in which direction they were taken. Are you a member of any of the larger Vietnam war history groups on Facebook? I would love to see your pictures frmo then.

    2. Hi Wayne, my uncle was at this base in May of 1969 and there was an ambush. He was driving a truck and ran over a mine. The explosion killed everyone in the truck but him. He served 1st Infantry 8th Battalion 6th Artillery. He is looking for the helicopter crew that came in under fire and picked up the wounded. He wanted to thank them and I was hoping that maybe you had some information.

      1. Was your uncle in a nat.guard unit?In august 69 I was at a fire Base north of lai keh.A 155 mech unit was going back to laikeh.One truck ran over a mine and all the men died.
        The next day I was injured and spent time at their evac till I went to longbinh.Then I went to camranhbay before going back to abase called venerable heights overlooking ben wa.
        I have no interest of going back but I would like to see a democratic vietnam before I go,lol

  51. Spent most of 1969 at Lai Khe with the 168 Combat Engineers. I was lead platoon when my company moved from Di An in February (2nd Pltn A Co) and we built up our company area in the rubber trees on the east side of the camp. Had a map of which trees we could cut down as every tree cost Uncle Sam a payment to Michelin.

    1. Steve, thank you for your comment and the interesting extra information you provided. I knew about the cost for rubber trees that had to be paid when battles took place in rubber plantations, but this is very interesting additional information. We didn’t get much material from the east side this time. That is due to it being too wet there. Even the small road was soaked. However, the video starts there before we drive over to the west side and there are a couple of pictures of it. For reference, we went in on the east side about 100 meters south of where we entered the west side just by the water facility and the bunkers at the gate.

      1. Our company area was on the east side about midway between the north and south gates just inside the perimeter road. When our platoon first moved up we were in tents, so I had the trucks parked between us and the perimeter as fire fights were going on every night and we’d occasionally see tracers going over our heads. One night a pair of F-4s came in dropping napalm right in front of us just outside the perimeter. It was like a fireworks show and we climbed on the trucks to watch. Beautiful and frightening at the same time.

        I have a picture of the perimeter that I took at that time looking out through the concertina and the land is barren. I didn’t realize then, but now know the area was denuded of all plant life with Agent Orange. It’s reassuring to see from your photos and film that everything is green and lush again.

        1. Steve, thanks for the additional information. So as the small bit I filmed and those pictures from the east side are about in the center, it means your company area would have been just a bit further east from that point, I believe from other pictures I have seen that the larger road between the rubber trees was a main road inside the camp when it was active. I believe it is still possible to drive the east perimeter road, there just wasn’t time when we went this time. However, this is a place I am certain to come back to. There is still so much to discover there.

          Yes it is green and lush now, the damage of Agent Orange is not visible in nature.

    2. I also was there in Lai kWh in 69 with the 168 engr and went back in 70 but the 168 had departed to the USA so I went with the 554 engr after sometime we went to camp brown near boa loc I was the gate keeper at camp brown. Sp5 brown. Been back to lai khe two years after the war to look around had a hard time getting a visa back then as they told me I am the 2nd person from the USA to enter Vietnam !!!!

    3. I also was there in Lai khe in 69 with the 168 engr and went back in 70 but the 168 had departed to the USA so I went with the 554 engr after sometime we went to camp brown near boa loc I was the gate keeper at camp brown. Sp5 brown. Been back to lai khe two years after the war to look around had a hard time getting a visa back then as they told me I am the 2nd person from the USA to enter Vietnam !!!!

  52. I was there in Nov 1968-Dec 1969 1st Infantry Division C company 701st Maintenance 81 st Quartermaster. I got knocked on my ass during a rocket attack on the air strip. We had a little village inside the base camp. The people in that villages loved AMERICANS

    1. Charles, I am happy you found our website. Thanks for the information. I*m glad you made it through the rocket attacks. Did you have a look at the video? I am driving around the village that I believe is the same but it has grown. Also main part of it is now on the former runway.

      1. I was with the 2/2 in 1965 when we arrived in either late August or early November after getting to Vietnam on a troop ship and a long voyage at sea. We put up all our tents and built our bunkers by filling sandbags with sand which was plentiful in that area. The village consisted of buildings that are not there anymore it seems like from your photos. The main French buildings and the swimming pool was used as a break area for all the troops and the Officers club was there also and our platoon leader could get us anything we wanted in an alcoholic beverage. The runway was in constant use by helicoptors and cargo airplanes . Highway 13 had a bridge that was destroyed probably in the war with the French and we could drive down to the river to wash our jeeps and vehicles ,you could still drive over that bridge but it was a twisted wreck of steel .

    2. my name is Edwin albizu I remember you Medeiros I was there in 1969 in your platoon when nva soldiers in a morning near laikhe in road to qualoi we recived a ambush attack and we lost 12 friends includynd the name stg William and pfc cruz sorry that close friends my

    1. My Dad, Terry Kalber, was also stationed there during some of the same months. We lost dad in 2008, a month shy of 61. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

    2. I was there from May 67 to June 68, stationed with the Robinhoods 408th TC Detachment. It was one hell off a ride and lost my best friend the morning of the Tet offensive. William Glexner was a mechanic and a very good one. I was in tech supply but was on a parts run to PhuLoi when the attacks started. Dave Childress was a very close friend and my immediate supervisor at the time. Was also there when the VC blew up the ammo dump. Thought the rocket and mortar attacks would never end.

      1. Was there also when Gary Wetzel who was a crew chief for one of our gunships was wounded and damn near killed defending his Huey and helped save lives
        He won the Congressional Medal of Honor and is the only crew chief who did during that time if memory serves me right. The 2/ 28 A company took a major loss as well, a platoon was ambushed while on patrol and I can’t remember if any survived.

        1. Does anyone from Robinn Hoods or 408th TC Detachment know about Richard Wells, Jain Carmona, Dave Childress, Spec.4 Ashton, or Staff Sargent Sanford, Spec, Purcevell, Bryant or Rick Hasladen?

    3. JERRY ROBERTS I WAS IN LAIKHE FROM MAR 68 TILL OCT 2 9 NOT SURE 0F LOCATION WAS DOWN ROAD FROM 1/4 CAV DIVISION SURVED AS A COOK IT SURE DESERVED THE NAME REOCKET CITY

  53. I was there in 1970. 1st infantry division. Seen the ceremony when we turned over to the south vietnamese army. I was transferred to the 25th at Cu Chi for the rest of my tour. Love to see the base camp more. Hoping I may have seen myself.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for visiting our website. I understand they shrunk the camp after the ARVN took over. I hope to get back there next time as there is sstill so much to explore in the area.

      1. The base was not shrunk; at least at the west side where the 5th ARVN ID headquarters and its supporting units were located. I was with the 8th Regiment located next to the civilian village. After months of long range operations, we were assigned to secure the perimeter. My company covered the North and Northeast of the perimeter.

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