Quan Loi Base Camp

The area northeast of Saigon saw as intense fighting as anywhere during the war. It is a rugged region carpeted with thick jungle, rolling hills and criss-crossed with rivers and streams.
With infiltration routes coming in from west and north, it was a highly active area for the PAVN and VC. To support the many operations they launched here, U.S. forces set up landing zones and fire support bases of varying sizes. Some became permanent installations that ended up being used all the time, while others were eventually abandoned after serving their purpose in a particular operation.

The Quan Loi Base Camp was established in 1966 for the 1st Infantry Division, in the general area were also other large bases such as Lai Khe Base Camp and Phuoc Vinh Base Camp. It was originally a French rubber plantation and the U.S. Army kept the plantation buildings and even the swimming pool. There was also a golf course next to the runway. In 1969, the camp was turned over to the 1st Cavalry Division who stayed here until after the Cambodian incursion.

In 1972, PAVN forces overran the base during the Easter Offensive, holding it for several months until August when ARVN forces managed to wrest it back.

Visiting the area today is easy, it’s just a short drive east from An Loc. The runway is still visible and possible to drive on, though it is hidden within a large rubber plantation. Most of the pavement is still there and there are a number of craters from bombs or rockets in it where bushes have sprung up. Apart from the runway, however, there is not much to see here in terms of remaining buildings.

At our recent visit it was very wet so we couldn’t really access the areas outside the runway, but we believe there it should be possible to at least find remnants of the old French swimming pool and we did see what we think were berms from the camp.

With the runway easy to find, it is possible to make out where the rest of the base was located using old pictures as references. The perimeter and access roads are possible to drive on as well, since they are still in use. Make sure not to get too close to the People’s Army’s compound at the east end of the runway though.  Overall this is a destination we do recommend for the history traveler.

In our research before our visit to Quan Loi, we found this excellent website and we used it extensively to map our visit. It is run by veterans who served at Quan Loi during the war. We find quanloi.org to be the best online resource on the base with thousands of photos, stories and maps. We hope you will appreciate the current pictures and video from the base here as well as the war time information you can find on their website

How to get there

From Saigon, follow the QL13 up to An Loc where you turn east and follow the smaller road No. 303 about five kilometers past the small town. About five hundred meter after the town there is a small road to the left leading up to the western end of the runway. Decimal coordinates: 11.674921 106.664814

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27 thoughts on “Quan Loi Base Camp”

  1. Was with 2/19th Arty, 1st Cav 69~70. Came out of Cambodia 1970 and stayed at Quan Loi for a few months. Remember that red clay/dirt very well.
    Would like to visit Vietnam again, looks like things have really improved since my time there. How are returning Vets treated?
    Thanks for your great website.

    1. Hi Bob. Thank you for your nice comment. If you are thinking of going back, let us know through the email address you can find on the “About Us” page. We will be very happy to help you out with some tips on logistics, how to get around, where you can and can not go etc. We have helped a few of your brothers on their trips. No charge of course.

      About returning veterans, well the ones we have spoken to have all been treated well. Vietnam is a very friendly country overall. It is also very safe to travel around. The only thing one has to be careful with is UXO in some places but as long as you stick to the trails and roads you are normally fine. Food and hotels are very affordable and so is transportation. Renting a car with a driver for a full day is a great way to get around to the old bases and if you were mostly stationed in III Corps you can use Saigon as a base and take day trips.

      Get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help you.

  2. I spent a lot of time at Quan Loi during 1969 and 1970. When I got in Vietnam the 11th Cavalry had jus closed down there base camp at Xuan Loc and moved to Quan Loi. When I finished Newby school upon arriving VN we boarded a Caribou aircraft and flew to QL. We worked in and out of that area a lot. We worked up and down QL13 a lot. The thunder bases were between QL and Lai Khe. I spent Christmas Eve at QL and New Years Eve 69 at An Loc. I have several pictures of both in my book I wrote. I drove a Sheridan tank and hit four landmines in three and a half months, last mine 1KIA, 3 WIA,whole story and more in the book. Thanks for what you are doing.

    1. Hello Dung, thank you for your comment. As you can see in the pictures we went around the old runway during our visit as well as some of the old base roads. I hope to dig a bit deeper next time to find the remains of the old pool and plantation building. I suspect there might be at least some remains there.

  3. Leonard Mushrush 11th ACR: Just returned from Quan Loi Feb 2019. Walking the runway,you are VERY visible with the entrance to their army base. An Loc Hotel & Spa is where I stayed the few days I was there. Tell the local taxi driver ,you want to go to Waterfall #4. As you pass by the army base on the right , the road you’ve been noticing on the left is the air strip. pull off down farther and have a look see. NOTE : It is a restricted area . Do not take pictures of the army base .

    1. Thanks Leonard, I hope you enjoyed your visit there. I found it to be a very interesting visit with the runway in such a good condition. Apparently there are some remnants of the French pool and house there. Maybe I can find it on my next visit.

  4. Got to QL in May 1971 as an Air Liaison Officer to MACVSOG. We had between 6 and 10 USAF Forward Air Controllers (FAC)s flying 0-2s and a smaller contingent group of Army pilots flying 0-1s out of Bien Hoa. We rotated our pilots, airplanes and some maintenance people in and out of Quan Loi to meet the SOG mission requirements and launched our missions from there. SOG had a small compound north of the runway which we shared with the Army component of SOG. Got to know the Frenchman who owned the rubber tree plantation and spend time at his house and pool with everyone. We closed most of SOG’s combat missions from QL by Nov ’71 and I went back to SOG HQ in Siagon but occasionally flew pre-planned missions out of QL as part of SOG’s Joint Personnel Recovery Command (JPRC). DEROSed home at end of Dec. ’71 always thinking I’d like to go back someday, but haven’t. Now I’m too old to make the trip. Thank you to all that served at this FOL with the red dirt and a thousand rubber trees.

    1. Thank you Frank. You really give some more context and insight to this article and Quan Loi. Thank you for sharing that. I didn’t know they were operating SOG out of Quan Loi so late in the war.

  5. I began and ended my tour at Quan Loi, probably spending about half my tour there. I was an S-3 Operations radio operator in the TOC for 1st Infantry, 1st Brigade. We were the mobile brigade, so we were in and out of Quan Loi during my year there. Flying in the initial impression was of a lunar landscape of artillery crater holes in red laterite soil. Quan Loi was 6 inches of mud or 6 inches of dust, depending on the time of year. We lived in tents among the rubber trees of the still-working plantation. Whenever the rubber workers left early we knew it would be a long night. Can’t exactly say the memories are great ones, but certainly Quan Loi will always hold a special significance that does not fade over time.

  6. I was at quan loi 67/68 i ran the ammo dump there .the pool that was there got blown up with 32vc in it while I was there 8”” guns 4of them In 67 I’ll never for get the red dirt i slept on and never had a hot meal to this day I can’t sleep at night still see it when I dream a lot of in coming rocket all the time

  7. anyone serve there with the 2nd battalion 18th infantry first infantry division in june of 1966 during operation el paso 11 along with the 4th cav. my cousin
    harry tracey richardson jr was kia june 26th 1966 night ambush in rubber plantation.

  8. I was at quan loi at the end, April 1972. Non American ” Green Beret” teams were running recon into Cambodia. I was the last Special Forces medic there . Then the Easter offensive by the nva.

  9. Great idea and nicely executed. I have had a website centered on Quan Loi and the 6/27th Artillery since 2002. http://www.quanloi.org. The 6/27th Arty was there from Jan 67 to June 70. If you have not done so already I hope you will visit. There are over 15,000 photos, stories, maps etc.

    I would b very interested if you guys get a chance to go back to Quan Loi and are able to check out what remains of the French swimming pool a, tennis courts and club house at QL. That area holds special memories for everyone who served at QL and had a chance to visit that special area and to swim in the pool.

    Thanks so much for your time and efforts with your website!

    Best Regards!

    1. John. Thank you for your comment and visiting pur website. I know your website very well, I have looked at it a lot while doing research for my visit to the base.

      My colleague who is based in Vietnam will probably get back to the base within a couple of months. We talked about it recently. The pool and the plantation house are gone but it seems there are some concrete remnants where the pool was. I can send you an email and we can stay in touch. I am happy to share any material i have with you.

      Best
      Jonas

  10. Very Good! I was at Quan Loi January thru April of 1968 with the First Infantry Division Graves Registration Team. Difficult but necessary duty in a combat zone.
    I have been back to NAM three times on battle field tours. In 1997 with the Society of The 1ID when nine old veterans traveled up to Quan Loi. My second trip alone in 2001 when I rented a motorcycle to head up Rt. 13 for a day at Quan Loi. Then in 2011 up Rt.13 again with my Son when we rented a car and driver for a day trip.
    In 2016 and 2018 I’ve attended the 6/27th Arty Reunions where their focus is on Quan Loi. A good group of “Old Soldiers”.

    1. Jack, thank you for your comment and encouraging words. I hop you have enjoyed your visits to Vietnam. Quite a different place today compared to fifty years ago. Stay in touch with us here are namwartravel.com and please let us know if you have any questions about the site today.

      Jonas

  11. I was sent to Quan Loi in October 1969 I arrive seated in my jeep in the belly of a C7A old caribou, towing a loaded trailer. I was to establish a presence in the far north east corner of the LZ. My jeep driver and I arrived to find the entire battalion area deserted. The accommodations were sparse and old , there were platoon size tents stretched over 2×4 s that had tin nailed to them as a roof, the out sides were surrounded by agent orange 55 gallon drums filled with dirt and stacked two high .They wreaked of mold and rot. the air strip ran in front of the tents . and there was a large open area gently sloping down to the perimeter bunkers, then a small dirt road in front of them then the perimeter wire .long story short , the second night there we got hit and over run. The green line bunkers were unmanned,and we did not know.Until about 21:00 hours.By 03:30 I ran out of ammo.

  12. Thinking of Quan Loi today and the 12 August 69 attack… hard to believe it was fifty years ago.

    God Bless all who were there.

    Jim

  13. I can still smell the poncho liners. So many memories, just….well you know. I arrived in Sept. 20. Repairman. Minniguns. Gernade launchers. I left too work at the re-arm point. Learned to op. 12 k forklift. My friend “Specks” and I worked the nightshift during Cambodia that we went in. Had the opportunity to op. the forklift, got to know to area pretty well. I have so much more, better leave some room for…. what are we. Thank You. Enjoyed. Later.

  14. We had a Stand down in 1970 not long after coming out of Cambodia (2nd Squadron 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. On our 3rd day in we (accidently) blew up our ammo dump where we unloaded all our ACAV’, M-48’s and Sheridans. They kicked us out and we had to set up outside the perimeter and finish our repairs before heading back out in the field. Casualties were the 1st Infantry mess hall and church!

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