Loc Ninh Special Forces Camp
In the small mountain town of Loc Ninh, about 120 kilometers north of Saigon and 70 kilometers north of Lai Khe, a legendary Special Forces camp was located. It was the scene of many fierce battles due to its strategic location just a few kilometers from the Cambodian border.
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In 1967 the camp was attacked by a significant VC force reinforced by PAVN forces including anti aircraft units. Defending the camp were U.S. Special Forces together with South Vietnamese CIDG troop The battle went on for a week and only after reinforcements from the ARVN and U.S. units came were they able to force the VC and PAVN troops to retreat, leaving more than 800 dead.
As the narrative goes about the 1967 attacks on remote bases such as Loc Ninh, Dak To, Song Be and others, General Giap was trying to make the Americans pull forces from the populated areas in order to weaken the defence before the 1968 Tet offensive. Prominent historians will argue against this theory. It wouldn’t have made sense to sacrifice thousands of soldiers ahead of an important offensive.
The camp was eventually turned over to ARVN forces and in 1972, during the Easter Offensive, Loc Ninh finally fell in to the hands of PAVN and VC.
Then home to tribal groups it is today a town where a fairly large population of ethnic Vietnamese lives, serving the trade in the area and the vast rubber plantations. The base was used as a staging and launch point for Special Forces going off on missions around the border areas towards Cambodia including the Fishhook region. This is certainly a very exciting place to visit considering its history and location.
The drive up there from Saigon along the main highway QL13 offers plenty of opportunities so visit historic sites. Along the road one will pass places like Phu Loi, Ben Cat, Lai Khe, An Loc, not mention the sites of the Thunder bases. And off QL13 just a few kilometers east of An Loc the former base camp at Quan Loi is very much accessible. There is so much to discover just along QL13 that one day is not enough. We recommend an overnight stay in An Loc for the serious explorer who wants to see it all. Along with Route 9 in Quang Tri and QL19 between Pleiku and Quy Nhon, QL13 is one of those legendary stretches of road that saw among the most intense action during the war.
Caution should be exercised though as this is an area which during periods of time is restricted due to its proximity to the border areas. We suggest checking in with authorities in either Saigon or An Loc before attempting to reach the site.
How to get there
Visiting the base going from Saigon is a full day trip. Follow the old QL13 also known as Thunder Road, go through An Loc and perhaps take a look at the old battlefield there. When you reach town, the old base is off to the left with a museum adjacent to it. Walking down the old runway you will also find traces of the berms at the SF Camp on the west side.
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