Viet Cong Raid On An Air Base During the Vietnam War.

Viet Cong Raid On An Air Base During the Vietnam War.

Above Photo:  Viet Cong sapper squad prepare for an assault during the Vietnam War.

USMC Gunnery Sergeant Paul Moore was interviewed by Peter Alan Lloyd as part of his research for BACK (see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/)

Binh Thuy Air Base, BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets viet cong sapper attacks

Final approach to Binh Thuy Air Base, 1966. Landing instructions were to avoid overflight of the opposite shore of the Mekong River because it was Vietcong territory. (tsn.org)

In June 1968 I was instructed by the Advisory Group Hq at Saigon on the Tan San Nhut air base, to go to Binh Thuy air base, in the Delta area, where a new “Attack Group” was being formed This group was to consist of AD-1 Attack Bombers (Skyraiders) and H34 Helicopters.

Binh Thuy Air Base Viet Cong raids on Mekong Delta air base Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle ho chi minh trail laos

AD1 Skyraider (US Navy)

The mission was to assault an enemy position with the Skyraiders, and then to land infantry with the helicopters. My task was to advise on the maintenance, logistics and operation of the helicopters, a task made somewhat more complex by the configuration mix of the H34 fleet, because different models had different hydraulic, fuel and other systems, all of which caused maintenance, logistics and pilot operation complications.

Binh Thuy Air Base Viet Cong raids on Mekong Delta air base POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets viet cong sapper attacks

Typical sandbag and wood bunker (Ed Wales, 212warriors.com)

I flew into Binh Thuy around noon, and when I arrived artillery was constantly firing out from the base and Viet Cong rockets were landing inside it. It was so intense that I didn’t even get a chance to see the Skyraiders and the helicopters I’d been asked to inspect. Instead, we had to spend the whole afternoon in and out of a sand bag and wood bunker.

Binh Thuy Air Base Viet Cong POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets what happened to POWs

AC-47 Gunship-Spooky (smsdharp).

As night approached, the Viet Cong crept closer to the base, putting it within range of their mortars, and we remained in the bunker the whole night surrounded by gunfire, mortar rounds and loud explosions, as the VC over-ran the base and a sapper team blew up our aircraft.

We called in C-47 gunships and throughout the night they flew in circles around us.

Binh Thuy Air Base Viet Cong raids on Mekong Delta air base BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets

A C-47 Gunship in action at night – Paul took the remarkable photo above during the TET Offensive in February 1968 as a C-47 gunship fired toward a ground target, a group of VC in a shirt factory near Tan San Nhut. The stream of lights in the sky to the left are tracer rounds being fired by the aircraft in amongst its many other non-tracer rounds. © Paul Moore

Because there were no SAMs in that part of Vietnam, they came in at low altitude, and the sound was unforgettable; the long bursts of machine gun fire sounding like huge buzz saws cutting through tough logs.

In the morning we heard strings of large bombs alongside the base as an “Arc Light” B52 raid went in, which shook the ground like a mini-earthquake.

BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs jungle jungle gold gold panning Asian jungle Vietnam war

Above image: Photo of the Hangar and work area at Binh Thuy which the Viet Cong blew up along with a number of H34 Helicopters & the Skyraiders. (© Paul Moore)

Later in the morning we were able to get out of the bunker as the local military regained control, and I was then able to take some photographs of the damage caused by the team of VC sappers who had blown up the aircraft and hangars, when they had penetrated the base. Even then there was still firing from some of the enemy who remained in the vicinity, including a sapper who was trying to hide under water.

Binh Thuy Air Base Viet Cong raids on Mekong Delta air base BACK vietnam war adventure backpackers in cambodia khmer rouge abductions disappearances Cambodia jungles ratanakiri POWs MIAs Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets secret war in laos tri border area Vietnam war laos Vietnam Cambodia gold mining river panning for gold tri border area

Tan Son Nhut Air Base the day TET started, in 1968. Pictured was a C47 transport aircraft. Several H34 helicopters also received damage. (© Paul Moore)

I believe eight H34 Helicopters and eight Skyraiders were destroyed, on a night where I thought, “What a hell of a way to end my life after three wars and four years here!”

After that, I was immediately placed aboard a C47 and flown back to Saigon.

Paul Moore flying a H-34 Kingbee Helicopter (© Paul Moore)

Paul Moore flying a H-34 Kingbee Helicopter (© Paul Moore)

CH37 Lift H34 Vungtau 1965- That is a stripped down fuselage of a VNAF H34. They remove rotors tail pylon etc to get it to the weight they can handle.

Another of Paul’s Vietnam photos: CH37 Lift H34 Vungtau 1965- That is a stripped down fuselage of a VNAF H34. They remove rotors tail pylon etc to get it to the weight they can handle.

See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.

For POWs left behind in Laos, see:

A US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, Retired, Paul is a veteran of three wars, World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. In Vietnam, Paul flew and test-flew helicopters and acted an as advisor to all VNAF squadrons in Danang, Nha Trang, Saigon and Binh Thuy for four years (1964-1968).

© Peter Alan Lloyd

BACK Parts 1 and 2:

Reviews: Amazon.co.uk: Customer Reviews 

UK: Amazon.co.uk: BACK Parts 1 and 2 

US: Amazon: Back Parts 1 and 2

Smashwords: Back Parts 1 and 2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.lloyd.94064?fref=ts

Website: www.peteralanlloyd.com

Twitter: @PeterAlanLloyd

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

Like this? Share it.

Related Posts

11 Comments

  1. Steven Hall

    There is no record of rockets hitting Binh Thuy, nor any record of the VC overrunning the base. We received hundreds of 81mm mortars and 75mm recoilless rifle fire, but no rockets. A couple of VC sappers did make it on the base (one time) but they were killed before they could do much damage. NOTE: No Air Force base in Vietnam was ever overrun. I know all this because I was assigned to the 632nd Security Police Squadron at Binh Thuy. We were responsible for the security of the base. You can verify my information by reading Lt. Col. Roger Fox’s report, Air Base Defense in the Republic of South Vietnam. (PDF)

    Reply
    • Peter Alan Lloyd

      Thanks for this Steven, but I think this is mostly semantics. At one stage Paul says ‘over-run’, but in your comment you also say “[not much] damage” was caused by a one-time base penetration by VC sappers. It seems to me this sentence in the article is pertinent: “I was then able to take some photographs of the damage caused by the team of VC sappers who had blown up the aircraft and hangars, when they had penetrated the base.”

      Reply
    • Dan McGuire

      Most likely the rockets he is referring to were the 75mm recoilless rifle fire. I was there from August 1966 through July 1967. . We were hit about six times during that period with only one fatality, a security policeman. One of my men was killed in the weather observation site below the control tower after I left. We thought we were overrun once because of what sounded like small arms fire. It turned out that they had hit an ammunition bunker.

      When I first got there, they had those low sandbag bunkers. People were more concerned about snakes than the recoilless rifles. By the end of 1966, they had the new bunkers with sandbags around conex containers. They were great because you could run into one at full speed.

      Reply
  2. Len Berry

    The day after Veterans Day and this is a story of what/where/when and my recollection of what I remember!

    Reply
  3. Tommy

    I served as Chief Dispatcher for Base Operations at Binh Thuy from Nov 1968 to Nov 1969 as part of the 632d Combat Support Group. I still keep in touch with two of my Vietnam Binh Thuy buddies. I am in South Carolina and they are in Illinois and Missouri. We have in met face to face twice since the war to recall our Vietnam days. Our memories get a little clouded after this many years. I am a member of Vietnam Veterans of America and would like very much to arrange a reunion of some kind with all of the 632d Combat Support Group members who served at Binh Thuy. I would also like to locate some of the Binh Thuy related service patches that seem to be lost forever. If any of you would like to respond to this request please get in touch. You can email me at ttinsley@proinserv.com.

    SSGT J,T, Tinsley Greer South Carolina

    Reply
    • Peter Alan Lloyd

      Good luck with that Tommy.

      Reply
    • Dan Noonan

      Hi Tommy, I served with the 632nd at Binh Thuy from February 1967 to April 1969. My work was as a munitions maintenance specialist (46150) and I worked most of the time in the munitions storage facility on the base. Much of my work was spent at night loading ammo and flares on the C-47 Spookys. When I first arrived at Binh Thuy they had no barracks on base so we lived in Can Tho, then shortly later we moved to these huts along the river just down the road from the base, and then finally onto the base. Actually, when I first got there we didn’t even have a bomb dump (ammo storage facility) and one of our first tasks was to build that ourselves. Luckily we had this guy from Mississippi who could operate any and all heavy equipment. My recollection of the Tet Offensive was much like that of Steven’s, but I do have pictures of some of the heavy destruction that was done to the hangers and planes, and helicopters. Mortar attacks were quite frequent during this time period and I can remember at least one guy slept every night in the bunker outside the barracks (usually after smoking a joint or two). I also remember pulling 18 straight days of 12 hour perimeter guard duty during this time. Finally, I vividly remember walking up to the base entrance when they laid the bodies of the dead Viet Cong out for the base workers to walk past as they came in. It wasn’t pretty and I was told that at least one of them had been employed on the base. It was about that time that I began to recognize what a stupid war this was. I keep in touch with one other individual I served with over there. I have tried to locate others but with little luck.

      Reply
  4. Dan Noonan

    Whoops, something else I meant to add but forgot was the observation that, at least while I was there, all of the AD1 Skyraider prop-driven bombers were operated entirely by the South Vietnamese Air Force and not the US Navy. The South Vietnamese also had their own bomb dump and it was a bit scary in that they had little respect for these munitions and would bring them in on dump trucks and simply dump them. Granted they are fairly inert without a fuse, but the operative word here is fairly. We tried to keep our bomb dump as isolated away from theirs as possible. I remember one incident where the people loading cluster bombs onto one of these AD1 aircraft in a hanger next to us, accidentally released a whole tube of them. It cleared out the hanger and the EOD people used cement casts on each one of these as a precaution before taking them out of the building and destroying them. Fun times and memories. Finally, missing on this list of planes at Binh Thuy are the O-2A FAC planes that used white phosphorous rockets to spot targets for fighter jets.

    Reply
    • Ray Bennett

      I was at Bien Thuy June 67 to January 68, left two weeks after Tet. Worked the 01’s & 02’s. Our aircraft got a lot of damage during Tet. We were operating the 22 TASS FAC Pilot Trainig. Most of our aircraft were relocated to Phan Rang around January 28, 1968. It was a much safer base. Loved,watching the C47 Gunships and A-1’s workout just off base at night was an interesting airshow. The Skyraiders were so awesome to watch dive bomb. A real experience! Loved the little base.

      Reply
      • jim molchany

        I was at Binh Thuy from feb to july 1969, I was a service tech (diesel generators) connected with 0l 26 . We tracked B52 bombings called combat skyspot. Major Knox was our CO and kept our little band of merry men inline. traveled between binh thuy and Bien hoa with binh thuy more like an r and r gig however spent many a night huddled in the bunkers. Why was it you could forget half your clothes but never your cigs the bunkers were always full of smoke. Lived off base in a compound that was like a motel long rows of shared rooms with a shared bath on back side with another long row. Bien Hoa however was a nightmare ,dangerous more blood and guts than I could handle so began using the NCO club as a pharmacy to be able to sleep at night. Took many years to get my shit together. Overall loved the air force just in at a bad time and do not regret my service just troubled by the loss of life. Some guilt about coming home without a scratch after what I witnessed.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *