Vinh Long Army Airfield

Vinh Long Airfield looking west

The Vinh Long Airfield was one of the strategic bases in The Mekong Delta  during the war that carried out operations in the delta with troops and air support. With its proximity to the main flow of The Mekong River, Vinh Long also had a base for PBR’s and other river vessels. During the Tet offensive in 1968, this base, along with many others, was heavily attacked by VC units and was then the subject of a larger assault in March 1972.

Vinh Long Airfield looking south through base area from main gate

What makes this place so interesting to visit for history travelers is its accessibility. It’s easy to find and more importantly, you can actually visit it. Many of the old bases today are now being used by the People’s Army and so are off limits. The Vinh Long airfield, however, has turned into a growing town. The former runway and the taxi ways have been paved and are now the main streets.

Vinh Long Army Airfield base area

It seems that an industrial zone is now being built across much of the old base area, especially on the northern side where much of the base was located.

We haven’t yet located the old river base with its docks, but hope to do that at our next visit. If there are any remains we will make sure to take pictures and publish here.

Vinh Long southern perimeter

We strongly recommend staying over in Vinh Long as the town offers a more genuine experience than some of the more tourist-intensive places in the delta. Beyond visiting the base, one can enjoy the town itself with its old market and take a river cruise. We recommend starting early in the morning as the scenery is outstanding when the sun rises over the flat delta landscape. Great genuine Vietnamese food is available in abundance. Hotel offerings were very basic last time we stayed over, but since then there seem have been a few new ones built.

 

How to get there

Vinh Long is  about 130 kilometer south west of Saigon, in the heart of the delta. The base itself is located in the western part of town and is only a couple of kilometers off the Highway 1. Going to Vinh Long is easy, there are regular buses going there daily. One can also drive motorbike there which takes a few hours or rent a car with a driver in Saigon. As mentioned in the text above, we do recommend travelers to stay over in Vinh Long for a genuine experience. Hotels are available at very reasonable prices as well as fantastic local food.

Decimal coordinates: 10.251, 105.947

 

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13 thoughts on “Vinh Long Airfield”

  1. Your statement about an assault on the vinh long base March 1972 Is false. I was there at that time with 3/17 1st air cav. I was a helicopter crew chief. I left VM in April but 1972 . I f any attack came it was later after we stood down and turned the base over to the South Vietnam army

    1. Roger, thank you for your comment. Saying it is false is quite a statement as that implies we have done it intentionally. We have used sources we have found online as we did the research for this article and unfortunately that isn’t always enough. Without looking in to sources, would we have maybe referred to the Easter Offensive? What we will do is to check in with the Vinh Long AAF Facebook group to get a final answer and we will correct the article accordingly. We are thankful for the correction from you.

  2. Saying it is false is indeed a strong statement, but Roger Wilbourn was at VLAAF until April, 1972. He should know if there was a large VC attack. I was there from July, 1970 thru August, 1971 and have studied all the info I could find about Vinh Long both before and after I was there. Your statement about the large VC attack in 1972 is the first have heard of it. You probably have the date wrong and it probably happened after the Americans turned the base over to the South Vietnamese military. BTW, thanks for the video even though there is nothing recognizable from the old base. The “runway” is even much wider that the old base runway.

  3. Thank you So much for this video… and just noticed you have another one up about driving north to, or through the Ashau Valley (aka “Death Valley”)… which is where I was during my first 13 months over there (I re-upped from Germany to Go There, that’s how crazy I was. : )

    Anyway, I arrived “in-country” the week prior to the 1968 TET, and left (shipped home from the hospital before I was actually due to be discharged!) on Nov. 18th 1970, and flew with both the Outlaws and the Maverick Guns from March, 1969 until the 3rd week in 1970, when I was “mysteriously” (never did find the cause of it) stricken with a very high fever (they later told me it ran from 104.2 to 106 for over two weeks), and they put me on the very next flight (Literally!!) leaving Nam when they signed me out of the hospital…. and after discharging me I found out that they had “lost” all my medical records from the time I spent with the 175th in Vinh Long, up to my time of discharge. How “Convenient”!!

    Sorry for the rabbit trail…. anyway, I really appreciate watching this video, but the ONLY thing I recognized was “Just Before” it ended, and I recognized the light blue and white “house” on the right….., it was a rather “frequented” house, for a period of time. ; ) Would have like to have been able to see the whole road back to town…. I had a house on the left, just before the “rotary” where you could go south to Can Tho…. I wonder if it’s still there(??), probably not considering all the changes in that country.

    1. Interesting, Jim B.
      I was the flight surgeon (only doctor on base) Tet Offensive. Any recollections? I remember the heroics of our troops.

      1. I was with the 114th AHC In Vinh Long 67-68 during Tet. Engured during a mortar attack. had to go to the medical for treatment. ETS March 31, 1968.

    2. I served at Vinh Long Airfield from January 1968 until January 1969 with the 611th Transportation Company ADS. I arrived there around a week before the 1968 TET Offensive. Vinh Long was under a withering mortar and rocket attack , and ground attack from Viet Cong forces. It was an experience I will never forget Vinh Long was attacked a lot during my tour there it was a strategic base in the delta Several Assault Helicopter units from 1st Aviation, 611th Rigger, Blackhawks Air Cav Unit, 114th and 175th Assault Huey Companys, 52nd Signal , Millitary Police Unit , and the Civillian guys that worked on the Hueys a few more units there I cannot remember we lost the Base Commander during the TET attack, VC blew the ammo dump and a bunch of aircraft were destroyed the base lost a few people that morning

  4. I was assigned to Vinh Long TM 52 in 66-67. Took part in what is or was the largest battle in the Mekong Delta on Easter Sunday,March of 67. Charlie was dug in at Minh Duc when our guys made contact and called in reinforcements landed and they landed right in front of 2-3 Btns of VC. 142 VC KIA, 4 Advisers KIA, 3-4 Choppers shot down.

  5. I was employed by Page Communications Engineers in Vietnam from February 1966 until March 1968. On January 30, 1968 I was transferred to Vinh Long and that afternoon moved into a house that was occupied by four Page employees, three Vietnamese people and one man from Lear Siegler Inc.

    The Page house was one of four adjoining 2-storey houses that formed one building with a common rooftop. The house next door to ours was occupied by Derek King a former Australian WW2 military man working for the Chieu Hoi programme, another house was occupied by two USAID men, one was vacant.

    Our building was located on the north side of a traffic roundabout; it faced south down the road to Can Tho. On the corner across the road to our right was an Esso gas station with a market area behind, and on the corner to our left was a bus station with a row of two-storey shop-houses lining the east side of the Can Tho road. At the rear of our house was a small Vietnamese naval base on the banks of the Mekong. Immediately in front of our house a narrow road ran east-west. Vinh Long town proper was about 600 metres down that road to our east. About 200 metres to our west the road crossed a small bridge over a drainage canal. A little further to the west was MAC-V headquarters and the US airbase was about another kilometre out along that road.

    At about 2:30am on January 31 we were woken by the sounds of an attack on the airbase. When we gathered on the rooftop in the dark we saw small groups of armed men running down the Can Tho road towards Vinh Long. We suspected that they were VC. Derek King had stored in his house many weapons, ammunition and grenades assigned to his Chieu Hoi unit. When these were distributed amongst us we had several weapons each, including a M-60.

    When three armed men stopped on the corner outside the Esso station, Derek King shot them. The VC behind them scattered on both sides of the Can Tho road into the market area and the bus station. We kept them pinned down all night; several of them were killed but none of us were injured. We were told next day that we had prevented about 30 VC from advancing. They had intended to take our house because of its strategic location, blow the bridge between us and MAC-V and attack the Vietnamese naval base behind our house.

    In the morning of January 31 we moved out to the Page construction site, which was adjacent to the air base, and dug in there. When the VC attacked the air base during the afternoon of February 1, we were evacuated to the USS Garett County which was anchored in the Mekong, and that night it took us to Dong Tam.

    1. I was with LSI and got to Vinh Long in April 1968. There were multiple tales about you and your buddies that night. Hail to the conquering heroes! We were required to have living quarters on base but 8 of us live just down the road from you toward the base. We felt it was safer than the base.

      1. In the Summer 1973 issue of Wanderlust magazine was an article about our experience that night titled “Without guns, ammunition and dark clothing it was a …LONG NIGHT FOR CIVILIANS”. In contradiction, the photo next to that heading showed four of us with weapons and two of us in dark clothing, and the article went on to describe the the cache of weapons and ammunition we were armed with that night. I’m not sure about the others but my ‘heroics’ were nothing but survival instincts.

  6. I can confirm the commanding officer was killed in initial moments of Tet. Brought his body to me, as was executive officer’s as well. I was told a machine gun dad been set up across from his sleeping quarters knowing he would be exiting there when attack began, gunned down.

    The bodies were piled high outside my dispensary.

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