Phu Bai Combat Base
|Phu Bai Combat Base|
|Condition||Seized 1975 by PAVN, Now Civil Airport|
|Elevation AMSL||49 ft / 15 m|
The Army Security Agency, operating under cover of the 3rd Radio Research Unit (3rd RRU), established a radio facility at Phu Bai in 1963, 12 km southeast of Huế on Highway 1. The operational unit was later redesignated as the 8th Radio Research Field Station (8th RRFS).
In late November 1967, the base was named Camp Hochmuth in honor of Bruno Hochmuth, Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division, who was killed in a helicopter explosion north of Huế.
Marine units based at Phu Bai during this period included:
- 2nd Battalion 1st Marines
- 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines
- 2nd Battalion 4th Marines
- 3rd Battalion 4th Marines
- 4th Battalion 12th Marines
- HMM-161 (May 1965 – January 1966, June–November 1966)
- HMM-163 (January–April 1966, October 1966 – July 1967)
- HMM-164 (July–November 1967)
- HMM-362 (August–November 1967)
- VMO-3 (January 1967 – 1969)
- Marine Aircraft Group 36 (November 1967 – October 1969)
- HMM-164 (December 1967 – February 1968, June–November 1968)
- HMM-165 (December 1967 – January 1968, March 1968)
- HMM-263 (November 1967)
- HMM-265 (January–May 1969)
- HMM-362 (December 1967 – May 1968, October–November 1968)
- HMM-363 (June–September 1968)
- HMM-364 (November 1967 – November 1968)
- HML-367 (December 1967 – October 1969)
- HMM-462 (August 1968 – October 1969)
- VMO-6 (October–November 1967)
On 30/31 January 1968, the base was hit by Vietcong mortar and rocket fire as part of the Tet Offensive. The base was used to support U.S. and ARVN forces fighting in the Battle of Huế. The first relief force was disapatched from Phu Bai to the MACV Compound in Huế City.
On 15 February 1968, General Creighton Abrams established MACV forward at Phu Bai to assume direct control of US forces in northern I Corps, which were then engaged in the Battle of Huế, the Battle of Khe Sanh, and the Tet Counteroffensive. MACV Forward ceased operation on 10 March 1968.:140
In 1969, the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division was moved to Phu Bai.
Units based at Phu Bai during this period included:
The ARVN operated Phu Bai as a forward logistics base, and it was the only airport serving Huế.
In September 1974, after pushing the ARVN defenders off Mo Tau Mountain, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) targeted artillery fire against the base until they were evicted by the ARVN 1st Division and 15th Ranger Group on 11 December.
From 5 March 1975, the PAVN shelled the base as part of the Hue–Da Nang Campaign. Nonetheless, the base continued to be used for aerial reinforcement of the ARVN, until it was overrun by the PAVN on 23/24 March 1975.
The airfield is now used as Phu Bai International Airport.
In popular culture
- Gustav Hasford wrote about his experiences in and around Phu Bai in 1968, in his semi-autobiographical novels The Short-Timers (1979) and The Phantom Blooper (1990).
- In the film Full Metal Jacket (1987), based mainly on The Short-Timers and in part on The Phantom Blooper, two combat journalists for Stars and Stripes, Joker and Rafterman, are sent to Phu Bai, where they cover as well as participate in the action there, and in Hue, in January 1968.
- Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. pp. 4–9. ISBN 978-1555716257.
- "Forward Operational Base No. 1 (FOB#1)". Special Forces History. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Order of Battle". USMC Combat Helicopter Association. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- Nolan, Keith (1996). Battle for Hue: Tet 1968. Presidio Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0891415923.
- Sorley, Lewis (2002). Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Time. Simon & Schuster. pp. 213–9. ISBN 978-0671701154.
- Dunham, George R (1990). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973–1975 (Marine Corps Vietnam Operational Historical Series). History and Museums Division Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 16. ISBN 9780160264559.