The Khe Sanh Marine Base
Little left nowadays
What we say:
In January 1968, the Viet Cong launched a devastating attack on this base as a diversion in preparation for the Tet Offensive. Americans held on for three months under heavy fire, but after Tet, withdrew back to Camp Carol -- before they left, they ploughed everything that remained of their base into the ground. Most of it was dug up and scavenged for scrap by locals long before Vietnam opened its doors to tourism, so there's very little left. There's a red-dirt airfield upon which, it is said, nothing will grow to this day. But there's actually nothing mysterious about that: the locals still use it regularly as a road to and from their fields.
There's a small museum around which some military hardware is on display -- a bunker, spent ordinance, two helicopters, and a crashed plane. The museum has a small, but surprisingly effective display of photos, dioramas, and artefacts from combatants on both sides of the war. The photos emphasise how the Americans left in a panic under fire, but if you talk to a Vietnam vet, they'll give you a slightly different story about the strategic withdrawal of troops.
The dioramas depict some of the tribal people who spent the war carrying provisions and implements of modern warfare in simple bamboo baskets, fighting off whatever military they encountered with bows and arrows. Military historians point out that most tribal people actually fought against the North Vietnamese, but it’s still definitely enough to tug at your heart a bit and make you think "My God. No wonder these people won the war." There's also a guest book full of testimonials from returning vets that makes for good reading.
The base is located just outside Khe Sanh Town. Approaching town from the south along highway 9, take a right at the first main intersection and the base is 2.5 km further up on the right. There's a sign marking the entrance.
More detailsOpening Hours: 07:00 to 17:00
Last updated: 30th January, 2008
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