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Ban Me Thuot East Airfield

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ban Me Thuot East Airfield
Vietnam People's Air Force insignia.png
Fatherland - Space.png
Pacific Air Forces.png
Military service mark of the United States Army.svg
Buôn Ma Thuột, Đắk Lắk Province in Vietnam
Ban Me Thuot East Airfield is located in Vietnam
Ban Me Thuot East Airfield
Ban Me Thuot East Airfield
Coordinates12°40′01″N 108°07′12″E / 12.667°N 108.12°E / 12.667; 108.12 (Ban Me Thuot East Airfield)
Site information
OperatorRepublic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF)
Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)
Pacific Air Forces (USAF)
United States Army
Site history
Built1961 (1961)
In use1961-
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg

Vietnam War
Battle of Ban Me Thuot
Airfield information
Elevation1,759 feet (536 m) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
09/27 5,900 feet (1,798 m) Asphalt

Ban Me Thuot East Airfield (also known as Ban Me Thuot FSB, Camp Torres, FSB Aquarius, Hoa Binh Airfield, LZ Ban Me Thuot and Phung Duc Airfield) was a military and civilian airfield and army base located approximately 8 km southeast of Buôn Ma Thuột.[1]

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The U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group established the first Civilian Irregular Defense Group program (CIDG) unit at the base in 1961.[2] The base was later used by the 5th Special Forces Group Detachment 32 and then MACV-SOG Command & Control South (CCS) operated a base here later named Camp Torres.[3]

The 20th Special Operations Squadron was based here from early 1968 to support MACV-SOG cross-border operations into Cambodia.[3]:160

Firebase Ban Me Thuot was located at the southeast edge of the base.[1] U.S. Army units located here included:

On 30 January 1968 as part of the Tet Offensive Viet Cong commandos attacked the base forcing its closure for several days.


In 1975 Phung Duc Airfield was the base camp of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 44th and 53rd Regiments. In the early morning of 10 March 1975 at the start of the Battle of Ban Me Thuot, the base was attacked by two People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) sapper battalions. While the PAVN sappers quickly penetrated the 44th Regiment base area, which was defended by only rear echelon troops, they met stiff resistance in attacking the 53rd Regiment's base and by dawn had been pushed out of the base with the loss of over 100 dead.[5] The PAVN 149th Regiment launched another attack against the 53rd Regiment's positions on 11 March, but were forced back with numerous casualties.[5]:190 From 12–13 March the ARVN 45th Regiment was dropped by helicopter onto Hill 581 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Phung Duc to begin a counterattack to retake Buôn Ma Thuột which had fallen on 12 March.[5]:169 At dawn on 14 March, the 149th Regiment launched another attack on the base supported by 6 tanks, the attack was again beaten back with the loss of 1 tank.[5]:190 A further attack was scheduled to take place during the afternoon, but some of the supporting infantry failed to arrive on time. The attack took place at sunset and the tanks became disoriented in the fading light and vulnerable to ARVN fire, by midnight the attack was called off.[5]:191 Simultaneously with the attack on Phung Duc the PAVN 24th Regiment supported by tanks attacked the ARVN 45th Regiment on Hill 581 scattering the 45th Regiment, killing over 200 soldiers and ending the hopes for a counterattack to retake Buôn Ma Thuột.[5]:191–2 At 3 am on 16 March the PAVN launched an artillery barrage on the 53rd Regiment base followed by a two pronged assault 90 minutes later by the 66th and 149th Regiments supported by tanks. The PAVN were unable to breach the base's earthen walls and lost 2 more tanks to rockets and anti-tank defenses. PAVN engineers eventually blasted a path through the defenses and by dawn on 17 March the PAVN had finally penetrated into the base. The 53rd Regiment commander Colonel Vo An and over 100 of his men managed to escape the base and make for ARVN positions at Phuoc An.[5]:194–5

Current use

The base is now known as the Buon Ma Thuot Airport.



  1. ^ a b Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. pp. 5–34. ISBN 978-1555716257.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stanton, Shelby (2003). Vietnam Order of Battle. Stackpole Books. p. 239. ISBN 9780811700719.
  3. ^ a b Lindsey, Fred (2012). SECRET GREEN BERET COMMANDOS IN CAMBODIA: A Memorial History of MACV-SOG’s Command and Control Detachment South (CCS), And Its Air Partners, Republic of Vietnam, 1967–1972. Author House. p. 134. ISBN 9781477273074.
  4. ^ Dunstan 1988, p. 139.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Veith, George (2012). Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973–75. Encounter Books. p. 162. ISBN 9781594035722.


This page was last edited on 26 November 2019, at 22:30
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