BASE CAMP - THE MIGHTY NINTH

We reported for duty...but where?


Courtesy of Danny Yates

 

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Courtesy of Joe Cook
Base Camp, Jan 1966


Courtesy of Joe Cook
(Compare to photos at right)
Base Camp, Jan 1966


Courtesy of Danny Yates
Note!  Photo at Left, Photo above (2-parts)
The skyline is identical!
One of the photos was identified as "Engineer Hill"


Courtesy of Joe Cook
Base Camp, FDC & Sleeping Tent


Click to view full size image
Courtesy of Joe Cook
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Courtesy of Joe Cook
Base Camp; FDC Plywood Trailer

Courtesy of Joe Cook
Click to view full size image
Courtesy of Edwin Moor
EMoor1.jpg
Courtesy of Edwin Moor


Sign prior to the "swap" of the 3d Brigades, 
the 25th and the 4th.

 


Duc Pho Base. 
Known as LZ Montezuma and then LZ Bronco.  The South China sea is at top right.  The airstrip is in the center.

Courtesy of Don Keith 

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Fire Support Base (FSB) Oasis
Courtesy of Mike Kurtgis



This is the 1969 era; much more developed
Courtesy of Mike Kurtgis

Pleiku AFB, 1969
Courtesy of Mike Kurtgis

January, 2012

A question from Danny Yates concerning "the original base camp" at Pleiku yielded many responses.  Since the question was posed to all who reside on our Email roster, I have decided to post all the responses I received.  I am relying heavily on Sgt Joe Cook's notes, since he came over from Hawaii on "Operation Blue Light" and has photos of what he knows as the "base camp".

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Original Inquiry:

I need  help finding our original base camp at Pleiku.  In letters home, I mentioned that we were about 6 miles north of Pleiku, about where the current Pleiku Airport is.  Iíve seen a lot of references to Camp Holloway, but I donít remember that name at all.  I was never aware of the camp having a name.  Did our base camp move in 1967?  Iím hoping your memories are better than mineJ  Thanks for your help.

Danny Yates

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Danny adds this note later:

Iíve been looking into this since my first email on the subject.  I think Iíve narrowed it down to a relatively small area.  I found the attached map of the Pleiku area online (see top photo), a map labeled sometime after we were there.  I then found a photo someone has posted about their time at Engineer Hill.  I combined that picture with one of my own taken from our base camp (mine on top).  I have other pictures taken in different directions so it should be fairly easy to locate our original base camp.  Iíll be in Pleiku on March 27, 2012 to look around for myself.

 

Joe Cook mentioned in his notes that our base camp was 3,000 meters north of Camp Holloway.  The map seems to support that observation.  In letters home, I mentioned that our base camp was 6 miles north of Pleiku.  I also said that the base camp moved in May, 1967, to a location south of Pleiku, probably Camp Enari.   Iíll be able to report more in a few weeks.

{Webmaster notes: check out and compare the photos in the 1st row of the table under Danny's map}

 

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Joe Cook provides excerpts from a letter home, January, 1966:"Base Camp", Pleiku.   "Dad, altitude of Our "B" Battery is 787 meters or 2,623 ft. We are on a plateau and about 4,000 meters to the North of the town of Pleiku; its about 900 to 1400 meters in altitude."  

First, let me say I never heard of any other name except "Base Camp" for name of rear area in Pleiku.   I arrived January, 1966 (and rotated out after Christmas, January, 1967 ) with "B" Battery of the 2/9th Field Artillery and attached to the 25th Infantry Division in the FDC Section.

We landed in a field (dirt runway) onboard a "Starlifter" C-141 aircraft, near Pleiku and we convoyed from the dirt air strip to a field location about 5 miles to the North, Northwest.   The 101st was performing perimeter security duty until we offloaded (above the town of Pleiku area).  Then another new Infantry Unit (?) and us took security from the 101st and they left.

    In an open field we started building our bunkers outside the town of Pleiku, near "Lake Bien Ho" (I think we needed to drive there to get to this field).  It would appear that we were building "Base Camp" from January to February and then my unit was sent to the boonies for the rest of the time and I never saw Base Camp again until I rotated out.   We spent first night in our pup tents around January 11, 1966.  As you will see from my pictures, "Base Camp" in Pleiku was NOTHING but dirt.

Another letter from Joe Cook after arriving on 10Jan66 - three days "in country":    "Viet Nam is a pretty country. Our Base Camp is located on top of a ridge and we look out across a plain area. About 8,000 meters to the North, the mountains (actually high tree-covered hills) begin and go up about another 800 meters above our Base Camp". (Note. The estimated elevations could be all wrong or right as I do not remember how I came by the figures in this letter, although I was in the FDC and it was possibly part of my job to record this.)  "The area we are in is clear and flat but as you get to the mountains, then lush vegetation begins. Around our Base Camp we have two villages and both are wired in and both laid out in similar pattern." 

Joe adds: 
After living in "buddy-up" pup tents for a few days, we (the FDC of 5 men) then began
sleeping in a GP-small (with NO sandbags) which also housed our Chart Tables, Radios, etc...until the bunkers were dug in. Yes - I am afraid we were in no hurry and not fully aware of our danger, having just arrived from Hawaii. Go Figure!

 We did bury two CONEX containers...size: 6'x10'x6' tall...face to face, with help of a bulldozer in the Base Camp in January or February, 1966. I believe we had red lighting (red bulbs) inside, which made it hard to read the charts (some of charts were in red).  Has anyone seen this or been in the CONEX'S? {Webmaster replies: You bet your bippy, Joe!  See the War Stories link: "An Unlikely Hero"}   My point is there were no fixed structures until around end of February or in March sometime that I am aware of.  Meanwhile, I am in the boonies for rest of year.    A quick aside: while in the boonies, we sent back to Base Camp ONE of our six 105mm howitzers into Base Camp. Thus each Battery sending ONE howitzer was to form a "Battery" in the Base Camp area.  
 
Another letter home from Joe Cook:  1Feb66
I wrote home in a letter: Camp Holloway is 3 meters south of Base Camp, Pleiku Holloway has had fire for last 4 to 6 nights. We, at Base Camp, Pleiku are requested illumination rounds over Holloway. (Note. The event happened before 1Feb66)



YOUR COMMENTS:

Milton Pounds: 
"Wasnít Camp Holloway the chopper base in Old Pleiku?"
 
             

Edwin Moor: 
"I arrived in July of 66 and left in July of 67. When I arrived, there were a lot of men that had come over from Hawaii.  Like I said , it was on a hill above the air base. I watched the base get mortared and found out that I really like bunkers. If you look at the first six pictures that I sent (in the Mighty Ninth Photo Gallery) they are of the old camp.
             

Danny Fort:
"I remember it being about 6 miles out northwest I think and it was called camp Enari.  That would have been in Sept 67-Sept 68.  We flew into the air strip in a C130 and took a 2 1/2 over to it and the same coming home.  There was a sign over the gate as you came in to the camp.  I arrived shortly after the switchover to the 4th Inf Div.  We convoyed back there from the coast to the highland and then again when we went Kontum."
            
Sam Nieto:
"I remember going south through Pleiku to the 4th Inf Headquarters about 4, 5, or 6 miles south, which was Camp Holloway. Could be that it was later move north to the airport site.  I remember the last two weeks volunteering  to deliver supplies to a camp east of Holloway near the border of Laos and Cambodia. There is also a Camp Enari base camp of the 4th, so for sure our base camp was south.
 

Michael D. Huseth:
"Camp Holloway was across the  valley from the 3rd Brigade on the south side of the Airbase.  The 3rd  Brigade was north and east of Pleiku, passed the "MARS" station and then south of Engineer Hill.  Brigade HQ was in the center of the compound, "A" battery was on the north side of the compound, "C" Battery was on the southwest corner overlooking the valley and Dragon Mountain to the west of us (Charlie Battery) and "B" battery was to the east side looking towards the mountain range northeast of the compound. 
 
Camp Holloway was a drive through town and more permanent with a PX, Barber shop, NCO, EM and Officers clubs.  The barracks were Quonset huts with dividers to make private rooms for the officers all heavily sandbagged.  A couple more senior NCO's would frequent the NCO club while I sat outside in the jeep waiting.  And I think there may have been an instance of Holloway "losing" a jeep to someone not from Holloway.  
 
The Brigade got to VN in the latter days of December, 1965 (Operation Blue Light).  The hill was covered in brush and trees of sort, most all greenery was gone by the time I arrived on 2 January, 1966.  The AirCav and Camp Holloway provided us the the air support we needed in the beginning.  The tent kits starting arriving in about February and we were then able to get off the ground and stay relatively dry.   
               

Bruce Hulin:"At any rate according to Charlie Black, the camp was indeed called "Holloway".   
               (From Charlie Black, who was a War Correspondent at the time)

Ed Thomas:
"Yes, Holloway is where we were until Enari was built and yes, it was where the airport is now because we used that airport (actually they have moved the new airport just up a mile from the old Holloway.  We were there last year.)  Enari had another airport and it has since been closed as they have tried to wipe out anything that we had then (but we found some old PCP planking from the Enari strip and had no trouble seeing where it used to be, so it hasn't quite disappeared yet.)  And yes, they were on opposite sides of town." 

"And yes, now that the name comes up, I certainly do also remember being at Camp Holloway, but I just can't remember when... and the relationship to Enari. I also remember a place called "Artillery Hill"... where was that? Also, I believe the troop show stage shown in some of my Gallery pics was at Enari.  Which reminds me... we used to sit on old helicopter blades as "theater seats" at Montezuma when we had a lull in the shooting and they decided to have a "movie night"... but it was right next to Graves Registration and I had always wondered why they located it there. Odd memories and it was strange to watch a feature-length movie in that environment. Don't think I ever saw one there more than twice and even then, never all the way through.  RE: going back and walking the ground at Pleiku/Enari... I would certainly be curious to see photos/video of how things look now. Despite many bad memories of back there, I also have some good ones.  RE: the airstrip at Pleiku... I spent MANY long hours there flying in and outĖusually on C-130s, Caribous or C-128s (again see my pics in the Gallery section). This place was a lonnnng, bone-jarring ride from our rear area and as you pulled up, the hootch that served as a "terminal and waiting room" was to the left... aircraft (everything from Phantom jets, Skyraiders, C-130s, Caribou, C-128s, Hueys, DC-3 "Puff", and Chinooks would be parked there. Behind you as you faced the airstrip were the Air Force living and operations quarters. THis much I remember vividly.

Lee Dixon:
"The base camp that I recall was Camp Enari... which was rather quite large and then there were a number of units clustered together. Barracks were mostly wood on rough concrete by that time but there were lots of tents, too and I was in one for a bit. Really messy in the rain and mud! 
The old airport 
at that time was quite a truck ride (or bus ride if you were lucky)  away from where we were and had Air Force guys there. They had very nice barracks, incredibly cushy compared to what we had.  I flew out of there all the time.   

I was a member at the NCO Club at Enari and I used to go to the same PX as in Lt. Springer's photos. When I first got to Enari in 1967, it was a terribly muddy place with reddish mud and reddish dust everywhere.  The 3rd Brigade 25th and 2/9th's rear area was here and I remember the first guy I met smoked a lot of cigarettes. He had a Jersey accent and listened to a lot of sha-boom music on a dusty old audio unit in a wooden office covered in red dust.  4th Division presence was huge here.  

I honestly don't recall anything about the base moving and frankly toward the end I think I spent about a month right back where I started before shipping out ETS. I was all the way down to running switchboards by then because we had no radio teletype equipment or crypto in our immediate area. We always referred to this as the "rear area".                      

 

Joe Hannigan: I got there in January 1968 and base camp was LZ Baldy because we were OPCON to the Marines at the time.  When we left Baldy, I went to A/2/35 so I didn't have contact after that. I'm sure it moved because the 2/35 base camp moved and while I was in the TOC, Maj Gen (then LTC) Moore was always where the TOC was.  The Arty had a different set because it supported a lot of units but it
was probably on one of the forward fire bases. I remember that Brigade Arty was in Duc Lap in late 1968 while the 2/35 was there, it may have been November or December or both.  I'm pretty sure my info is correct but I hope someone else remembers also.                    

Dave Whaley: How about Brigade Hill?  That's what I remember.
                    

Webmaster Dennis Dauphin - My Recall:
I have a postcard home which confirms that I arrived in Cam Rahn Bay, Tan Son Nhut AFB in mid-November, 1966.  I have pictures posted in my Photo Gallery of Camp Alpha, where I processed in-country.  After a week of not knowing a damned thing about where I would wind up, I got word to "move out".  At 0430, I was directed to fly out to
Pleiku.  Lt Frank Herbick was on the same flight. It was daylight where we landed, on a very basic dirt airstrip.  There was nothing in sight.  This is likely the same airstrip where Lt Bert Landau landed and dragged his duffel bag and went back for his wooden footlocker and dragged that, too.  A truck came by and saw me and Frank standing like two Christmas ornaments in the middle of nowhere, wearing our short-sleeved, stateside-pressed khaki uniforms with shiny Field Artillery brass.  Noticing our Artillery brass, they asked, "Are you looking for the 2/9th Arty?"  Yes, we were...but were they looking for us?  So we reported in to whatever-wherever...I was scared shitless by this time...and all I can say is that it was primitive and it had tents.  The interview was short because they wanted us in the field...really bad!  Frank drew the 1st of the 14th and was immediately sent to the Ia Drang Valley...Frank was lucky like that...and I drew the 2nd of the 35th.  I threw my duffel bag into a locker at this location.  I never saw that duffel bag until I was about to DEROS.  I was informed that the locker area got flooded due to the monsoon rains, so they moved it to another location.  This is how I know the camp got moved.  When I finally married up to my duffel bag, it was mostly mildewed goods. With my "Freedom Bird" only a couple days away, you don't really think I gave a crap where this was, do you? Sent some of the locker mildew home, tossed the rest out. Back to Tan Son Nhut, a seat on a Northwest Airlines jet, and a ride to the states.
                        

Finally, here is a contribution from Joe Hannigan about the naming of Camp Enari

The Naming of Camp Enari 

As Colonel Jud Miller, commanding officer of the Second Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, completed preparations for leading his brigade from Fort Lewis, Washington to Vietnam, Major General Arthur Collins, Division Commander, called him to his headquarters to wish him luck and give him final instructions. Among other things, Colonel Miller was to establish the base camp which the division would occupy when they arrived later in the year.

"Jud, I want you to name the base camp after the first GI killed by hostile fire after you get to Vietnam. That would be a fitting tribute to a brave soldier", said General Collins in his parting instruction as Colonel Miller left on that day in July, 1966 to board the plane taking the advance party to the division's new home south of Pleiku, Vietnam.

On September 3, 1966, while operating on a search and destroy mission as a member of Charlie Company, First Battalion, 22nd Infantry regiment, PFC Albert Collins became the first Ivy Division soldier killed in action when he was cut down by heavy fire from a Vietcong unit.

Knowing that General Collins would not want it to be perceived that the base camp was named after him, Colonel Miller sent a back channel message to General Collins at Fort Lewis explaining his proposed alternative plan for naming the base camp. "Since the first enlisted man killed in action was named Collins, I recommend we name the base camp after the first officer killed in action." General Collins agreed with Colonel Miller's recommendation.

On November 5, 1966, while participating in Operation Paul Revere IV with Alpha Company, First battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, Lieutenant Richard Collins, graduate of the West Point class of 1965, became the first Ivy Division officer killed in Vietnam when he was shot by a dug in North Vietnamese force. By now, General Collins had arrived in Vietnam and discussed the dilemna with Colonel Miller. "We'll name the base camp after the first posthumous recipient of the Silver Star, regardless of his name or rank," was the agreed to plan.

Lieutenant Mark Enari had worked on the Second Brigade staff and was constantly prodding Colonel Miller to let him go to a line company to lead a rifle platoon. As a replacement was needed in the First Battalion, 12th Infantry regiment, Lieutenant Mark N. Enari earned the Silver Star while fighting the North Vietnamese regulars during Operation Paul Revere IV in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Lt. Enari died as a result of the wounds he received during that battle.

Early in 1967, the Fourth Infantry Division's base camp, sitting at the foot of Dragon Mountain in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, was named Camp Enari in honor of Lieutenant Mark Enari and retained that name as long as American forces were in Vietnam.

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