The Rockpile, Khe Sanh Combat Base, Lang Vei Special Forces Camp, and Lao Bao: 11 and 12 March 2013
Today we viewed The Rockpile and visited the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base; we also visited a monument commemorating the Battle at Lang Vei. I tracked the route using a GPS receiver and the tracked route is superimposed on the below Google Terrain Map.
The Rockpile can be seen on this map. The Rockpile is located where the route makes a 90 degree turn and starts heading south. The mountain at the turn, standing in the clear, is the Rockpile. It was used by the Marines as an observation post to find and track North Vietnamese troops infiltrating into South Vietnam through the DMZ. The observed infiltration information was sent via radio communication to the Marine Air Base in Dong Ha, to be analyzed and acted upon.
The Khe Sanh Combat Base site is located where our route leaves Highway Nine, travels northwest a short distance, and then stops. That is the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Lang Vei Special Forces Camp was situated adjacent to Highway Nine, approximately 4 miles west of Khe Sanh and about 5 miles east of Lao Bao on the Vietnamese/Laotian border. On 6 February 1968, it had within its perimeter 24 American Green Beret soldiers, plus approximately 500 Montagnard and South Vietnamese irregular civilian troops, and 350 Laotian soldiers. Early in the morning of 6 February the camp was attacked by a force of heavily armed North Vietnamese infantrymen, plus 12 Soviet built PT-76 amphibious tanks.This was the first time the North Vietnamese used tanks in South Vietnam. It was a short bloody battle that ended within hours; the camp was overrun and captured by the North Vietnamese. The Montagnard and South Vietnamese suffered 309 killed, 64 wounded and 122 captured. Of the 24 Americans at Lang Vei, seven were killed in action, 11 were wounded and three were captured. An unknown number of Laotian troops and North Vietnamese troops were killed or wounded.
We are leaving Dong Ha and heading west on Highway Nine.
On Highway Nine, heading west.
This is a panoramic photo of the Rockpile, taken from Highway Nine, and looking north. The elevation of the Rockpile is approximately 790 feet above sea level, and about 690 feet above the surrounding terrain. Scroll to the right to see the complete panoramic image.
Stars and Strips
The Rockpile. Tours here range from seven days to two months. It offers pros and cons. Some extend their tours here, others are glad to see the chopper land and take them off.
Stars and Strips - South Vietnam, October 29, 1966: A U.S. Marine enjoys a little shelter from the elements in a poncho tent as he maintains radio communications atop The Rockpile, a 750-foot hill located at the junction of five valleys seven miles south of the DMZ. The Marines manned the exposed 40-by-17-foot summit outpost for weeks at a time.
Stars and Strips - South Vietnam, October 29, 1966: Marine Corporal Steve Perlewitz atop The Rockpile.
A helicopter about to land on, or hover over, the wooden helicopter platform constructed on the summit of the Rockpile. US Marine Corps photograph. Circa1966
The location on Highway Nine of a destroyed bridge crossing the Da Krong River.
The present day bridge crossing the Da Krong River.
A map of the Vietnamese DMZ, Route Nine and a number of US Military outposts: Khe Sanh, the Rockpile, Con Thien, Camp Carroll, Dong Ha, Gio Linh, Ca Lu and Lang Vei.
Khe Sanh Combat Base and Lang Vei Special Forces Camp.
Detailed map of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Khe Sanh Combat Base as seen from the air. Circa: 1967-1968.
Khe Sanh Combat Base as seen from a helicopter during a medical evacuation mission. February, 1968.
Road to Khe Sanh is no Shangri-la
March 22, 1971, By Dan Evans
KHE SANH, Vietnam - Every day the drivers rev up their two-and-a-half-ton M49C tank trucks loaded with aviation fuel at Fire Support Base Vandegrift and roar out onto the road to Khe Sanh that has already claimed 13 of their vehicles.
This is the Khe Sanh Combat Base museum. It was closed when we arrived at Khe Sanh.
UH-1 helicopter, as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
CH-47 Chinook helicopter, as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
An M48 Tank and a M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
C-130 military transport, as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Another view of the C-130 military transport aircraft.
The location of the former Khe Sanh Combat Base air strip. It is interesting to note that parts of the site of the former air strip are now under cultivation, and coffee beans are amongst the crops being harvested.
Khe Sanh bunker (recreated), as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Khe Sanh Command Post (recreated), as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Bunker (recreated), as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Destroyed American tank, as seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
An example of the barbed wire fence that surrounded the Khe Sanh Combat base. The North Vietnamese troops were able to infiltrate through the barbed wire by using Bangalore torpedoes. As seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Khe Sanh combat detritus. This appears to be a Huey UH1 helicopter. As seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Khe Sanh detritus. This also appears to be a helicopter. As seen at the site of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
A monument to the battle of Khe Sanh located in the village of Khe Sanh. The monument is at the intersection of Highway 9 and the secondary road going north to the site of the American Khe Sanh Combat base.
For additional information about the Battle of Khe Sanh, it is suggested that you review the following articles:
1.The Battle of Khe Sanh, 1968
2.Vietnam War: Battle of Khe Sanh
3.The Siege of Khe Sanh Begins
4.Battle of Khe Sanh: Recounting the Battle's Causalities
5.Battle of Khe Sanh
A map of the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp location.
Lang Vei Special Forces Camp Detail.
Soviet PT-76 Amphibious Tank located at the site of the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp. The North Vietnamese used 12 PT-76 tanks and approximately 500 troops to break into the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp. At the time of the attack, the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp had 24 American Green Beret troops, approximately 500 Montagnard and South Vietnamese irregular civilian troops, plus 350 Laotian soldiers.
A machine gun mounted on the Soviet PT-76 Tank.
Vietnamese / Laotian border crossing as seen from Lao Bao, Vietnam.
A Montagnard woman in Lao Bao. 12 March.
Lao Bao. 12 March.
Lao Bao. 12 March.
Lao Bao. 12 March.
Lao Bao. 12 March.
Raining in Lao Bao. This was the only rain I encountered during the entire trip. The rain lasted no more than one hour. 12 March.
Vietnam March 2013 Trip Home Page: Go Here
Vietnam War Medal of Honor Citations: Go Here
Photos from Korea and Japan: 1968 and 1969: Go Here
My Return to Korea: October 2003: Go Here
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Neil Mishalov firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © Neil Mishalov; posted 29 April 2013