Song Be Bridge

Song Be Bridge looking south

A few kilometers south of Phuoc Vinh Base Camp in War Zone D are the remains of an old French concrete bridge over the Song Be river. The bridge itself was probably destroyed by the Viet Minh during the war against the French, leaving a large gap between the two ends.

Song Be Bridge

During the Vietnam War it was still used by the US troops as the highway was crucial as it was the only highway connecting Phuoc Vinh to Bien Hoa. The need to keep the highway open for supply convoys meant that there had to be a permanent presence at the bridge. For at least a few years during the sixties, there was a US platoon posted a bit north of the bridge and the bridge itself was guarded by an ARVN unit. The large gap was built over with a military bridge in order to carry the passing trucks.

Song Be river

During the war this was a very hostile area deep in to the jungle and rubber plantations. Phuoc Vinh five kilometers north was the closest fixed installation so guarding this area would have been a very dangerous task although it was within artillery range from Phuoc Vinh.

Today the bridge is more or less in the same condition as it was during the war, making this one of the rare sites where one will get a good view of what it really looked like. For our visit we approached from the north as we came down from Phuoc Vinh on our way back to Saigon. The video below shows well the approach to the bridge and also a short walk on the bridge with the new highway bridge being just a couple of hundred meters west.

Song Be Bridge

A stop here is definitely a must for the history traveler passing by between Dong Xoai and Saigon. One will reach the bridge in just a couple of minutes off the highway from either side of the river. There is a monument at least on the north side of the bridge declaring it a provincial relic.

JT

 

How to get there

The bridge is located long the highway DT741 about six kilometers south of Phuoc Vinh. There are access roads on both sides of the river. From the main highway it is only a few hundred meters to the bridge.

Decimal coordinates: 11.253651, 106.759547

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27 thoughts on “Song Be Bridge”

  1. Not sure of the exact time I was there with A battery 2/319 arty. 101st airborne. Hardest ground we ever ran into in my 18 mos. in country. Each base plate pin took a good 80 whacks apiece and settled on only 4 pins driven. Due to the hard ground, I believe they choppered in full sandbags for our bunkers We had a visit from Westmoreland inquiring as to our mail. We were advised that swimming in the river was off limits to us, but it seemed it was acceptable for the grunts.

  2. A 1/2 out posted the bridge sometime in 1967. One night our LP saw what they thought was a light on the river. I went out to the LP with Niner-One and thinking the light was Cong ferrying troops or supplies we adjusted 81mm in on the light. The fire was accurate and the light seemed to go out, but within seconds it would come back on. After several more volleys, we saw it was actually the rising moon reflecting on the water surface.

  3. I worked on the s/w side of bridge in Nov/ Dec 68 clearing massive amount of dirt . I was with A. Co. 1st Engrs. Dozer opr. Remember having thanksgiving dinner flew in by helicopter… Foggy memories can’t remember much these days tho. Do remember hitting many land mines next to bridge while working tho. And one morning finding dead bodies along side bridge after previous night firefight.

  4. Martha Rate visits a platoon of 11Bs at the Song Be Bridge site. After a 30 day operation out near the Cambodian Border our platoon was sent out to guard a bridge on the Song Be River a distance from our Phouc Vinh Base Camp. We were only a platoon of grunts (Lima Plt., A Co., 1/26th Inf., 1st ID-luck of the draw!), but she came anyway. It was sometime in late 1966 or maybe 1967 before October 1, 1967 (my DEROS DATE). In May 1965 Martha began the first of her eight USO tours of Vietnam, visiting military camps and outposts. She was accompanied by Earl Colbert, a guitarist, and Ollie Harris, a bass fiddle player. During one of her visits, she performed with Johnny Grant, Eddie Fisher, and John Bubbles.

    1. Martha Rate (RAYE) visits a platoon of 11Bs at the Song Be Bridge site…..Raye not Rate…spelling error on my part. I visited Viet Nam back in 1994 while working in Singapore. We were not permitted to visit my old Base Camp at Phouc Vinh or the Song Be Bridge Site at that time.

  5. Hello everyone! This is J.V. Perez. I served with Delta Co. 1/28 First Infantry. I arrived at Lai Khe in mid-December of 68. I joined my unit at Song Be Bridge. During the day we labored building huge bunkers and at night we went out and set up ambushes. Sometimes we actually made contact with the Vietcong. The engineers were still there clearing the wooded area around the bridge. I have a few photos of the bridge and my unit members!

  6. 48th Group, 6th Battalion, 319th Transportation Company 5 Ton cargo trucks (I was a member/driver) convoyed over the Phouc Vin bridge regularly during September ’68 – August ’69 from and to Long Binh, our base camp. I wrote of this and attached a bridge photo on pages 148 and 149 of my published book “Vietnam Convoy Trucker.” We only had inches clearance of both sides of our heavy trucks. Scary. Don’t want to do it again. Welcome Home Gentlemen.
    Bill Patterson

  7. “A” Company 1st Engineers of the 1st Infantry Division built the bridge over the Song Be River sometime during mid-1967, I think. I was with “Echo” Company 1st Engineers and our Base Camp was DiAn. My memory is foggy as to when and why I was there. I recall being the 3rd or 4th vehicle (5-Ton Bridge Truck) to cross the new Double Baily Bridge. The bridge was 437 feet long, the longest sense WWII. I have photo as I crossed the bridge and the sign that “A” Company placed over the top of it.

      1. Sorry I was wrong, we set the mine fields on both sides of the bridge in 1966 . I was with A company. Things get blurry after awhile. A buddy lost his hand when a mine exploded. Saw the pictures of the bridge being built. Go Diehard alpha

    1. I must have crossed that bridge several times on convoys from Phuoc Vinh down to Saigon. Phuoc Vinh Jan 1966 to Feb 1967.

  8. I may have a picture of this bridge when it was built. From my dads pictures, he was stationed here in 1969-70. Course, I recall it looking pinkinsh? Let me check.

  9. I have pictures of the Song Be Bridge in early 1968. B Co, 2/34th armor was crossing. Not much room for a 52 ton tank. Pictures also show guard station. Any way I can upload those pictures?

    1. I remember bridge was there in 1968 for a couple wks with 101st out of phouc Vinh , people lived under bridge I swam in river couple times

  10. Alpha and Charlie companies of the First Infantry Division, (Big Red 1), 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment were sent to guard the Song Be Bridge in December of 1967. Army Intelligence reported that the Viet Cong were going to try to blow the Bridge up. We were there until January of 68. Never had more than a little sniper fire in the evenings and probing our lines at night. One VC with an AK 47 walked right through our guard station, walked down to our Mess Tent and surrendered to our cook. The VC had Malaria and wanted Hospital care.

    Things are not making much sense about when the Army Core of Engineers built a span connecting the two portions not when the US supposedly blew the bridge up.

    When we were there, the bridge had a suspension underneath it that allowed people to build shelters out of whatever materials they could find.

    Now, I wish that I had taken pictures of the Bridge when we were there.

    1. Hi Gary. Thank you for your comment. Tat is very interesting information. Yes, it would have been very interesting to see pictures of what the bridge looked like back then. I am not sure who blew it up in the first place. I had thought it was during the French era.

      1. Martha Raye visits a platoon of 11Bs at the Song Be Bridge site. After a 30 day operation out near the Cambodian Border our platoon was sent out to guard a bridge on the Song Be River about 5 or 6 miles distant from our Phouc Vinh Base Camp. We were only a platoon of grunts (Lima Plt., A Co., 1/26th Inf., 1st ID-luck of the draw!), but she came anyway. It was sometime in late 1966 or maybe 1967 before October 1, 1967 (my DEROS DATE). In May 1965 Martha began the first of her eight USO tours of Vietnam, visiting military camps and outposts. She was accompanied by Earl Colbert, a guitarist, and Ollie Harris, a bass fiddle player. During one of her visits, she performed with Johnny Grant, Eddie Fisher, and John Bubbles.

    2. I was there with A Co, 1/18 for a couple of weeks I think it was December 68.
      I remember the suspension and commerce going on under and around the bridge.
      Wish I had pictures too..

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