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.

 

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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9 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.

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