Here’s a little trivia for you, and for what it’s worth — on one of my earlier trips back to Vietnam a few years ago (just made #12 this past Feb), I hired a driver through the concierge desk at the Furama Resort on China Beach…The driver had grown up in the Da Nang area, and was a former NVA/PAVN soldier c. 1979-1982 ! He told me that he had spent most of his time fighting in the war in Cambodia…I wanted to take a short afternoon tour of some of my old stomping grounds from my earlier days with 3rd Marines on my first tour, before the regiment pulled out of Da Nang, and moved up to Camp Carroll in the fall of ’66…On the way out, we passed through the old Dog Patch cluster, and saw that the old beer can shacks have all been replaced with mostly cinder block buildings…Then, as we passed what used to be the Hill 327 PX, which is now a rock quarry, on what used to be one of the most traveled roads in the Da Nang area years ago, the road turned into not much more than a washed out trail…There is almost nothing left that would indicate our presence during the days of the “American War”, however as we approached what used to be the old division headquarters on Hill 510, which is also another rock quarry, I spotted the old red and gold “Camp Reasoner” CP sign, still standing somewhat, along the right side of the road where Recon Bn used to be located…I remember that the sign had been erected when the CP belonged to 3rd Recon, before we all moved up north to the DMZ in the fall of ’66 — during the tail end of Operation Hastings, and the beginning of Operation Prairie I…1st Recon then took over the Da Nang Recon CP until 1st MarDiv pulled out in mid-1971…Then we drove out past the old 11th Marines CP,out to Da Son ville, and then turned left up through the pass near Hill 362, and out to the BaNa mountains, where they’re building a new 36 hole golf course, just north of the old Happy Valley area…This area used to be part of 2/3’s TAOR before they moved down to Dai Loc in the spring of ’66…
BaNa used to be an old French resort during the old French-Indochina days, and was later used as a mountain-top radio relay site and rest stop for 1st and 3rd Recon patrols during the 60’s…Not much left of the old French resort nowadays, but the Vietnamese have built a tram to the top of the mountain, and several resort hotels on the hillsides…At almost 5000 feet, it provides a terrific viewpoint…A friend of mine from Chula Vista, Tom Addis, works for IMG golf course design…Tom is the golf course site supervisor and course sculptor for the new mountain course project at BaNa…During his 14 years in SEA, Tom has done numerous world class golf courses in Vietnam, including the Montgomerie Links GC at China Beach (part of which is the old ROK Marine CP area), and the beautiful Vinpearl course in Nha Trang.
Here’s a couple of current pix of Freedom Hill (Hill 327) and the 3rd MarDiv– then 1st MarDiv headquarters area at Hill 510 for ya — other two were taken during a ‘pit stop’ at the Red Beach Resort with my driver.
MGySgt USMC (Ret)
1964 – 1987