I had to chuckle when I read Gunny Rouseau's comments about going back to Vietnam… I spent several tours in-country, as well as a tour with TF Delta in Nam Phong, Thailand at the tail end of the war… I've been back to Vietnam almost a dozen times over the past 7 years or so, landing the first time at Noi Bai Airport on the north side of the Red River outside of Hanoi… The Gunny mentioned BaNa and 1st Recon Bn, so I'm wondering if he may remember a friend of mine who was a platoon/patrol leader with 1st Force Recon Company back about that same time — Ric Miller… Ric was a mustang and a former Vietnamese interpreter on his first tour.
Back in the earlier days, BaNa was part of 2/3's old TAOR until Operation Hastings kicked off in the summer of '66, when all of us from 3rd MarDiv moved up to the DMZ, and 1st MarDiv moved up from Chu Lai to Da Nang to take over the southern part of I Corps TAOR… 1st Recon used the hills up in BaNa for their radio relay site during the late 60's… BaNa is up in the Truong Son mountain range, about 25 clix WSW of Da Nang, and just north of the old Happy Valley… Up at about 4500 feet, you can see all the way to the beach, and it gave a clear VHF radio shot down into Hoi An, the An Hoa basin, and the old Arizona Territory… Back in the old French Indo-China days, BaNa had been a French resort that was established in the early 1900's… Like Dalat to the south, and Sapa up on the northern border, it sits high in the western mountains, up out of the heat and humidity that we remember all too well.
The Vietnamese have begun to re-build the BaNa area into another resort, with several resort style hotels up and running already, and a tram that will take you up to the top of Chua Mountain… They're even building an amusement theme park for the kids… In addition, there will also be a 36-hole mountain golf resort in the near future… A good friend of mine from San Diego, Tom Addis is the site supvr and golf course sculptor for IMG, which is the company contracted to build this one… Tom also did the Montgomery Links course at China Beach a few years ago (just south of Marble Mtn – about where the old ROK Marines CP used to be located).
If any of you ever get the chance to go back for a visit, I highly encourage you to make the trip… Might even help to put a few of those old ghosts to rest finally… When you arrive, there is a brand new, modern pax terminal at Da Nang (DAD)… You'll be amazed to see what has happened over the last 40+ years, and for the most part, you'll find that the Vietnamese people love American tourists, especially if they discover that you were a veteran of the "American War".
MGySgt. – USMC (Ret)