FSB Buttons - Song Be

Nui Ba Ra overlooking FSB Buttons

FSB Buttons (earlier LZ Buttons) was once one of the largest bases in the area of north eastern III Corps. Over the years, it was home to Army units together with all kinds of support and flying units. Being located so close to the Cambodian border meant that Buttons blocked the way for PAVN troops infiltrating across the border.

The camp was also used as a staging ground during the Cambodian Incursion, thanks to it being so close to Cambodia, choppers would lift off and be able to support the troops in Cambodia within minutes. Traffic went both west towards the Fishhook region as well as north towards Snoul. Most of these larger camps would also host a Special Forces camp and Buttons was not an exception.

FSB Buttons was the most northern of the large bases in north east III Corps. Other ones were places such as Quan LoiPhuoc Vinh and Lai Khe as well as the other bases along QL13 – “Thunder Road”. In all directions though were plenty of smaller Landing Zones and more or less temporary bases that were used for different purposes such as operational support or Special Forces Camps such as Loc Ninh. Further south was War Zone D.

Looking west along runway or taxi at FSB Buttons.

All the way through the area runs the Song Be river. Its bridges were highly contested and especially the Song Be Bridge south of Phuoc Vinh would have a permanent guard unit. Viet Cong and NVA units would also use the river as an infiltration route making it a hot spot. This was a very active area during the war.

Close up of Nui Ba Ra at FSB Buttons

As the old base area is now being developed, there will soon not be much left to see that resembles the base area. However, the old runway, taxi ways and other base roads are the ones used as main roads in the area. With the mighty Nui Ba Ra overlooking the old base, anyone who were there during the war will recognize the place.

There was also a smaller runway in Song Be Town just a few kilometers north east that was used by FACs.


How to get there

Song Be is located about 100 kilometers north east of Saigon and is accessible via the main roads in the area. Plan for a full day trip to go there and back, make sure to include stops at other locations that are mentioned here in the III Corps section such as Loc Ninh, Lai Khe, Quan Loi and Phuoc Vinh. As mentioned, this area was populated with a large number of bases. Thanks to the vast rubber plantations and the fact few tourists go here, these bases are still well worth visiting as there is still relatively much to see.


Decimal coordinates: 11.821737, 106.963992


How to get there

Song Be is located about 100 kilometer north east of Saigon and is accessible via the main roads in the area. Plan for a full day to go there and come back


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26 thoughts on “FSB Buttons/Song Be”

  1. I was on LZ Song Be, January 1970 to December 1970 , with 2/12 first Cav Div. I remember te every day mortar attack, rápid fire in te Night. Remember the helicópter carry the died soldier and dog . Remember the Red Cross girl visitang the LZ. The heavy rain in the LZ. And dirty clothe in the forest.. WAlking and walking in the bush every day looking for NVA and VC enemy and my squad compose for 3 mexican., 1LT Mexican, 5 more from diferent state and me from Puerto Rico.

  2. I was a generator operator for the 1st signal brigade stationed here throughout 1970. I remember the many mortar attacks on the base and the big guns firing shells every day.

  3. I was with the 1st Cav in Cambodia and areas around Song Be until I had a medical issue and was pulled out of triple canopy jungle to a hospital. After getting out of the hospital I was stationed at Nui Ba Ra. This was from around September 1970 to March 1971 when we turned the hill top over to the South Vietnamese. I have pictures of some guys that were there at the time as well as several looking down on Song Be and Buttons. I’d be happy to share them if there is any interest.

      1. Sent several to the email address you provided. Will send photo’s of several of the guys stationed there later.

          1. After looking at your site further, I realize you don’t really have a place for pictures. You know of a site where they might want pictures of the area and some of the guys stationed there at the time? Thanks, Don

          2. Don, there are a couple of Facebook groups, one is called Vietnam Veterans Photo Club. That is quite good, a bit rowdy sometimes, but lots of good material and photos like yours are always very much appreciated. For the website, we have been thinking of having a page for veterans’ photos as we have received quite a few over the years. Your photos are really interesting and deserve to be shown.

            There is also Instagram. I know a couple of vets who publish their pictures together with their stories. They are getting a fantastic response. We have an Instagram for this page and would of course help to promote you.

  4. I flew many missions around song be as a 1st cavalry door gunner. From may 69 thru Jan 70. Some crazy times.

  5. During my time I worked out of Phuoc Vinh, Tay Ninh, and finally out of Fire Support Base Buttons in Song Be. Both the Nui Ba Den and Nui Ba Ra mountains watched over us at times like brooding giants while the orange dust of FSB Buttons that turned into the thick orange ooze in the Monsoons left a ring around my bathtub when I finally made it home. Those bases are long gone as is the jungle war we knew that was fierce and violent, but the tranquility and raw beauty of the countryside that is displayed in your recent photos shows a better time and place. Thank you for all that you guys do in showing some of the history (and geography) of the war we knew then.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment Kregg. And thank you for your contributions to the website. Indeed Vietnam is in peace nowadays and it offers so much for the traveler. I think for almost every article on the website, we have had input from one or more veterans to make sure the articles describe history in a correct way. I am very grateful for that.

  6. Thanks for the interesting article and comments. I was at buttons for 3 months from about Oct to dec of 69 I believe. My artillery unit, C battery 2/12th, had 3 155 towed howitzers, we were there during the ground attack of 4 Nov 69. we fired on the tunnels mentioned earlier, using Willie Peter or rather white phosphorus rounds, which I thought was against the Geneva convention. We set the whole middle part of the mountain on fire. Quite a show but we didn’t see the infrared scopes for a while after that. Around the first of the year we rejoined the rest of our battery at Quan loire which was located across the road from the french plantation house.

    1. Larry, thank you for your comment. And thank you for the insight, it really adds to the information in the article. I know during the Tet offensive in 68 they were fighting very close to the base as well. It is quite amazing how close they were moving around to this large base.

    2. Oh and one more thing, have you seen the article about Quan Loi here on the website? It is also in the III Corps section. That was an interesting visit.

    3. To Larry Alderson,
      I was there at FSB Buttons with you during the ground attack. I have much information and photos in the event you are interested. Contact me at my email address. By the way, I’m Teddy Leyba.

      1. My Brother, Mike Lucas, was at FSB Buttons during the Battle for Buttons Nov 4, ‘69! By chance do you know of him? I believe he was 2nd of the 7th, 1st Cav!
        Thank You!!

  7. Jonas:
    Thank you for your time and for posting this. I was at LZ Buttons from October 1969 to January 1970 with the 557 Engr. Co. 31st Combat Engr. Bn. We built a by-pass road around the camp because the public road ran through the center of it, and at sundown it had to be closed to none-military traffic.
    While I was there, Nui Ba Rah was found to contain an extensive tunnel complex (from one side of the mountain to the other) with a 90-man-capacity hospital.
    Nightly mortar attacks came down on us from the rock formation (no longer visible in your photo, but just above the roof of the building in the bottom center) on the mountain. Other work included repairing the runway, building an outside ammunition storage area, and a outside POL storage area. When we finished, we left to go reopen Hwy 13 for the invasion of Cambodia. Much of what we had built at LZ Buttons was destroyed not long after we left.
    Thanks again,

    1. Joe, thank you for your nice comment.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the bypass road you built is still in use and one of the town roads today. Interesting information about the tunnel complex. I believ I have read about it somewhere but am not sure. I do remember reading that LRRP units were pulling missions by the foot of the mountain as the Tet offensive started, killing several enemies there. It is amazing how they would settle in so close to a major base.

      Did you work at other bases in the area? Chances are they are covered here on the website. I have gotten around to several of them that still has something left to see like Lai Khe, Phuoc Vinh, Loc Ninh and Quan Loi. The Thunder bases are all gone and so is An Loc.

    2. Thank you for this. I was there Jan 68 thru Feb 68. We were a signal platoon sent there from Phu Loi in support of an element of the 101st on a mission that still remains a mystery to me because the leadership didn’t really tell us a damn thing other than get all your stuff together and be ready to load up. If there was an OPORD issued, it was never shared with the lower enlisted. We set up camp up in the woods on the other side of the road. I only knew that we were at Song Be at the “Big Strip.” I have only learned recently from post like this that it was FSB Buttons and that mountain was called Nui Ba Rha. Anyway, thanks again for the post and info.

  8. Thank You for your work. 1st Infrantry 1 st Batillion 5 th arty in Phouc Vhin 1967. In battles of Ceder Falls, Junction City. Moved to Song Be 1967 to set up under the BLACK VIRGIN MOUNTIAN AS IT WAS KNOWN. We were used to fire grid fire for units supporting a communication site on Mountian. Firebase became known as buttons. Moved to Quan Loi . Home of French swimming pool and Golf course.
    Headquarters was set up in reclamaimed garbage dump. My 105 weapon was set on number 9 tee of golf course overlook a valley of Quan Loi. Before building Firebase moved again to the Michelin Rubber Plantation where the NVA and Vietnamese army by passed us to attack towns and villages around us. Finished my tour in the Plantation Feb-March 1968.
    Time has changed the areas. We survived the walk. Welcome Home for those who did.
    REST IN PEACE BROTHERS WHO FELL. For all that was in that counrtry. We all left our souls behind. We still suffer from those times.

    1. Thank you for your comment Frank and thank you for visiting the website. We are lucky to have the places you were at here on the site. I had hopes of finding the remains of the swimming pool at Quan Loi at the day of our visit but it was too wet to venture off the runway. I have a good idea of where it would have been, but at best it would be possible to find some concrete remains of it and perhaps some of the buildings.

      More or less the whole area from driving east from An Loc towards Quan Loi and south from there all the way down to Dong Xoai is covered with rubber plantations now.

      I would like one day to travel around the area, especially north of Buttons and look more in detail for the old LZs that were scattered there. I am sure there would be some interesting finds.

      Again, thank you for visiting our website.

    2. I was on Nui Ba Ra mtn from late Oct 70 until the Cav pulled back in 71. I’m trying to find out exactly when the 1st Cav left the area.

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