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New Vietnam War Records from Phan Rang Air Base

Phan Rang Air Base was an important United States Air Force base during the Vietnam War. It is located in the Ninh Thuan Province of Vietnam.

Originally built by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII, it was rebuilt by the United States Air Force and used during the Vietnam War by both the USAF and the South Vietnamese Air Force. As part of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, the base was turned over to South Vietnam. In April 1975, the People’s Army of Vietnam seized the base, and today it is used by the Vietnam People’s Air Force.

We’ve recently added historical records from Phan Rang (also called Happy Valley). These records include stories, photos, rosters, and newsletters that have been collected and shared to a Facebook page dedicated to those who were once stationed at the base. 

The newsletter collection contains stories about dangerous missions, enemy attacks on the base, military awards and decorations, and descriptions of what off-duty airmen did to pass the time. You can also find stories of how base medical personnel treated local villagers, and how Christmas was celebrated on the base.

The Phan Rang Air Base collection is part of our User Contributed collections that include Unit Histories, yearbooks, scrapbooks, journals, and more. Explore the newsletters, photo collections, and remembrance lists for Phan Rang Air Base on Fold3 today.

119 Comments

  1. Amything on LARRY LANHART?
    He was a US Marine in Viet Nam.
    Thank You.
    Linda

    • I wore a POW/MIA bracelet as a teen in the 70’s. I went into their “Historical War Records” section and found his full name, address, date captured and date that he returned home! I was so happy. Why don’t you try looking there.

    • My brother Steven Blake was in Viet Nam. He was there during the Tet offensive. He did 2 tours and tried to sign up for a 3rd but he told me he was so messed up in the head they wouldn’t take him. He had frequent flash backs when he would be back in the war. He was 100% disabled later on in life from Parkinson’s disease due to agent orange and died as the result of that disease.

  2. Thank you for gathering and preserving these records and stories. Let me put in a plug for a book, “The Grotto”, about life flying helicopters out of Phu Bai. The author, Hal Walker, is a pilot who was stationed there for three months in 1969-1970. The style is “literary nonfiction”. It is very readable. Although told from the author’s perspective and guided by his memories, Walker has done a tremendous amount of research to fill in details and verify his recollections. The book is loaded with pictures of his fellow Marines and others.
    https://vvabooks.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/the-grotto-by-harold-g-walker/
    We are eagerly awaiting the second volume, which will cover his next nine months flying from the Marble Mountain Air Facility in Da Nang

  3. I was stationed with the 13th Artillery A-Battery 7th Bn, supporting the Phu Cat Air Base. Are there any records from there? I made a lot of friends during that time.

  4. In ‘71, Phan Rang was the home base for recently assigned FACs of the 21st TASS. These men went on to become the heroes of the Easter Offensive of ‘72. After our 4 mission check out at Phan Rang, we were sent to our operational units in MR III and IV and eventually to the augmented super FAC Sqdn at Tan Son Nhut.

    • Tom,
      Please consider joining our FB group: “Happy Valley” – Phan Rang AB, Vietnam. Make sure to answer the membership questions when applying.

  5. I was there ’70-’71, 435 MMS.

  6. My brother Kenneth Snake, and two cousins: Archie and Lewis George Snake all served in Vietnam. They all came home.

    • From a much different war, my father, an Army Combat Engineer enlisted soldier and officer (battlefield commission) served in the Pacific from 1941 to 1944. He was at Pearl Harbor, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa. He survived to come home and raise a family. God bless all the brave men who survived, and those who didn’t.
      Susanne Bostick Allen

  7. I was stationed on hill nut dot with the 518th signal company providing communications for the base. I was there for most of 1967.
    Welcome home vets.

    • Don Williams, my first husband, Robert M. Bowen, was stationed at Tan Son Nhut air base near Saigon from July 1967 to July 1968 and was in communications. He was there during the Tet Offensive which was scary but he came home safely. So glad you, too, made it home safely, although no one comes out of any war unscathed. We were also stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines from 1964 to ’66. The base there had a beautiful new hospital which had been constructed as a triage for wounded soldiers air lifted out of Viet Nam before being sent back to the states. We saw some pretty sad sights at that hospital!

  8. I was there 70 71 315 CAM C123 OLD SHAKEY SGT ROLAND IVY ALSO AUGMENTEE FOR AIR FORCE SECURITY

  9. Thank all of you!!! My Dad is a Vietnam Vet, he didnt see action, however he spent lots of time with the wounded while he was in the hospital ill. He had so many brothers that he was in boot camp with, the stories are few, but there was such a genuine loyalty to his fellow Army men.
    Thank you all again for your sacrifice, and bravery. My dad was stationed in Germany.

  10. My father was at Phan Rang ’66-’67. He was T/SGT Walter J. (Mac) McDonough with a unit arming F100’s
    he came hone, and finally retired after 28 years, in 1979.

    • Walt, your father or even you should consider joining our Phan Rang AB FB group and he might even be able to reconnect with some old friends and we also have an annual reunion. Besides reuniting with old friends and making new ones, our goal is to preserve the stories of our Phan Rang brothers.

  11. Last name Brewster from Ohio. Fathered a child that now lives in California. He has contacted my son who’s they’re DNA has been linked. My sons father is a Brewster but to young to been in Vietnam. Should be my sons grandfather or a uncle I surmise. We are at a loss of how to find more info. The boy was born in Vietnam and came to the states. His mother passed never telling him who his father was . Only the DNA Has turned a pebble not a stone.

  12. I was a USAF captain assigned as an advisor to HQ RVNAF at TSN 1972-1973 for anything electrical, especially power plants. I was in the 1131 SAS, Det 10 (MACV) but visited most of the RVNAF controlled air bases including PRG (Happy Valley, I remember the sign.) also Bien Hoa, Ben Thuy, Nha Trang, Da Nang,Cam Rhan Bay, and a miserable little base in the delta called Soc Trang. I remember that the RVNAF seemed to fear the ARVN worse than the VC. The RVNAF even cut off the electricity to the ARVN hospital at Nha Trang becasue they said they couldn’t spare the electricity. If an RVNAF really screwed up, they marched him out in front of the assembled troops, dressed in an ARVN uniform. I was one of the last GI’s out–29 Mar 1973.

    • I was stationed at Binh Thuy most of 1966. 22nd TASS. 250%manned so had to live in hotel in Can Tho and also rented my own place. Glad I got out of there in February 1967, they wanted me to reenlist. Nope.

  13. Anything on Robert Peterson? He was in the Vietnam Conflict!

    • We could be more helpful to your search if you could provide us more information, such as;
      Branch of service:
      Service number: (used before SS#’s)
      Dates of service: (actual or approximate)
      Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) or basic description (truck driver, mechanic, pilot etc)
      Any base names (or state) that he may have been trained or stationed:
      If he was stationed in Vietnam, a base name or Corps (I, II, III or IV) area:
      Any number of clues that you may have may trigger a better question or answer.
      Thanks! and Good luck!

  14. Two of my brothers were in the conflict, one Air Force and the other Navy. They both came home, one addicted to drugs( recovering) and they have PTSD and refuse to talk about Vietnam.

  15. There is a Fb group called Happy valley Phan Rang if anyone is intersted. A lot of our photos/doucments have been uploaded to Ancestry.com. My photos will be there from the time I was at PRAB 169-12/69 with 600th Photo Det 5. We have a lot of people from various squadrons that are actively participating on FB.

  16. My cousin, Adrian Fortuna was a Navy Seabee. There was a terrible accident while he was there. He died recently from cancer. He was also diabetic. Both probably related to agent orange exposure. Also had a close friend in USAF who worked in the photo lab, JJ Collopy. He is also gone now. Another close friend was a Marine, Peter Barnes. Thankfully, he is still around.

  17. Your main picture of the Phan Rang flightline is reversed. I was stationed at “Happy Valley” from Nov 68 – Nov 69 with the 554th Red Horse Squadron and we constructed most of the “Concrete Sky” aircraft shelters. They were all to the left of the control tower pictured here. Just an FYI … thanks for the post.

  18. I served at Phan Rang in 1970-71. Was in 35th Supply squadron

  19. I was stationed at Phan Rang AB from May 1968 to May 1969 with the 35th Field Maintenance Squadron. I worked on the flightline supervising local Vietnamese employees that maned the Wash Rack. Sgt. Fowler was our NCOIC. My best friend was Robert “Bob” Cook who worked in the Instruments Shop. Lots of memories of off shift evenings at the Airman’s Club, the outdoor theater for USO shows and later the newly opened “21” Club. I will never forget January 26, 1969 when the base perimeter was breached during a night time attack and the morning after. The base was hit more than 25 times during my tour of duty, but that was by far the worst. Happy Valley was not always happy, but a much better place to be than many others in Vietnam.

  20. A bit of Aussie stuff from Wikipedia related to 2 Sqn RAAF and Phan Rang – interesting that they tracked down and returned the remains of the MIAs in 2009:

    “In 1953, the squadron was re-equipped with GAF Canberras, which it later operated from RAAF Butterworth during the Malayan Emergency, after deploying there in 1958 to relieve the Lincoln-equipped No. 1 Squadron RAAF. During the emergency, the squadron undertook airstrikes against communist forces and after the conflict ended, it remained in Malaysia throughout the early 1960s during Confrontation, before despatching eight Canberras to South Vietnam in April 1967 as part of Australia’s commitment to the Vietnam War.[14][15]

    Based at Phan Rang Air Base in Ninh Thuan province, the unit became part of the United States Air Force 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (35 TFW) and between April 1967 and June 1971,[16] the Canberras flew approximately 12,000 sorties.[17] Although the squadron initially undertook high-level night-time attacks, the majority of its operations were low-level daylight attacks; and according to historian Steve Eather the squadron achieved a high success rate, accounting for 16 percent of 35 TFW’s assessed bomb damage despite flying only five percent of its missions, while maintaining a 97–98 percent serviceability rate.[18][15] It dropped 76,389 bombs and was credited with 786 enemy personnel confirmed killed and a further 3,390 estimated killed; with 8,637 structures, 15,568 bunkers, 1,267 sampans and 74 bridges destroyed.[19] An aircraft from the squadron responded to a distress call on 24 April 1969 and, against operational orders, bombed a site in Cambodia (the Fishhook) where US special forces were pinned down.[20] Two crew members were killed, two squadron members died of disease, and three from accidents during the war,[15] and two Canberras were shot down in 1970 and 1971. One was brought down by a surface-to-air missile from which the crewmen – one of whom was the squadron commander, Wing Commander Frank Downing – safely ejected and were rescued via helicopter, and another was lost during a bombing run around Da Nang.[13] The crew of the latter aircraft were not recovered during the war and were posted as “missing in action”; however the wreckage of their Canberra was finally located in April 2009 and their remains returned to Australia.[21] The squadron was awarded the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and a United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Commendation for its service in Vietnam.[18][15] During the deployment, the squadron’s aircraft used the callsign “Magpie” in recognition of the squadron’s emblem.[22]

    A No. 2 Squadron RAAF Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft during a deployment to the Middle East in 2017
    The squadron returned to Australia in 1971, having been deployed overseas for a total of 13 years.[13]

    • I tip my hat to you Aussies! I remember your parties as being exciting events!
      I remember your beer cans were of steel and could not be bent over like America’s aluminum beer cans!
      You didn’t have brand names — you called them by the color of the can!
      The Last Fight of your Squadron Commander was unique — they stopped after turning off the runway, and tied him to an external bomb rack, so he came in to the Last Flight fire-hose ceremony lashed to the bomb rack of his Canberra!

  21. Looking for any photos of Martin J. Burns, Marine, from Wilmington, Delaware. He was my brother.

    • I am also looking for any pictures or information about Michael Corbin and James (Jimmy) Corbin. They came from Detroit Michigan.

  22. Are there any Facebook groups on Marble Mountain. My first husband was a Marine aircraft mechanic and flew numerous missions as a 50 cal gunner during 68-69 . Berton Duncan was his name. He came home from Vietnam to Camp Lejeune.

  23. James Roy Fadden served in Vietnam is there any information on him?

    • We could be more helpful to your search if you could provide us more information, such as;
      Branch of service:
      Service number: (used before SS#’s)
      Dates of service: (actual or approximate)
      Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) or basic description (truck driver, mechanic, pilot etc)
      Any base names (or state) that he may have been trained or stationed:
      If he was stationed in Vietnam, a base name or Corps (I, II, III or IV) area:
      Any number of clues that you may have may trigger a better question or answer.
      Thanks! and Good luck!

    • We could be more helpful to your search if you could provide us more information. Any number of clues that you might have, or can get, may trigger better questions or hopefully answers!
      – Branch of service:
      – Dates of service: (actual or approximate)
      – Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) or basic description (truck driver, mechanic, pilot, medic etc)
      – Any base names (or state) that he may have been trained or stationed:
      – If he was stationed in Vietnam, a base name or Corps (I, II, III or IV) area:
      Thanks! and Good luck!

  24. It was of interest to me to read the numerous stories by military personal who had a part in the operation of the Phan Rang Air Base. I know a little about the initial base as I arrived there in the summer of 1965 as the Operations Officer of the 62d Engineer Battalion (Construction) USA. In September 1965 I moved the battalion to Phan Rang for Cam Ran Bay and we started the construction of the base. Finally on October 15,1965, we received the construction plans for the base. in the mean time, we cleared the area and started support facilities and our base camp. We also rehab the existing Phan Rang airstrip for air crago use. The long story was that airfield became operational on March 15, 1966. I published an article in THE MILITARY ENGINEER magazine November- December 1966 Vol. 58. No. 386. titled Phan Rang Air Base PP431-433.

    • I was there, with the 62nd Engineers, September 65 / September 66. I was 62E20, heavy equipment operator. Most of the year I operated a loader on the mountain, loading trucks with fill dirt for the runways. I don’t think it was too long after I left, the 62nd moved and became a land clearing unit. I only have a couple of pictures from that time. If you have any, I would love to see them.

    • Donald I arrived November 65 as a part of Grey Eagle to help in building the base, I was in supply assisted in getting Bases Supply going. It was very early in the process so we did a lot of working making hooches out of tents. Kind of enjoyed the early part but was worried about being attacked.
      Sleeping on the old army cots with air mattresses was not comfortable.

  25. Do you have anything on a William A. Crisp..Thank you

  26. I would like to say Thank you to you and your families for all you did during this and every war America has been in. Most everyone I knew and most of my family was in one war or another but Viewnam was the one I was most familiar with.
    Marvin Carl Lanier was my older brother, he passed away in 2014, he was in Viewnam in late 1969 through I believe 1972. I don’t know much about what he did because he did not talk about it very much only to say he was on the medical helicopters bring wounded in for medical care.

  27. Welcome home boy you guys are men and have be enjoyed for years, it was a pleasure serving with you guys from the sea. Onboard Aircraft carriers and destroyers. It was an honor and pleasure serving with you guys. Praise God we’re home some of us !!!!!

  28. Does anyone have any information on a Joseph Burton or a Charles Edward Drumm?? This is so interesting. Thank you in advance .

    • We could be more helpful to your search if you could provide us more information. Any number of clues that you might have, or can get, may trigger better questions or hopefully answers!
      – Branch of service:
      – Dates of service: (actual or approximate)
      – Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) or basic description (truck driver, mechanic, pilot, medic etc)
      – Any base names (or state) that he may have been trained or stationed:
      – If he was stationed in Vietnam, a base name or Corps (I, II, III or IV) area:
      Thanks! and Good luck!

  29. My father Joe Burch was at Phan Rang from June 1967 to May 1968. He was a USAF pilot but served as Ops Officer there. He told us he had a great time with the Aussie pilots that were based there.

  30. Does anyone have any information on Steven L. Emery who was in the Air Force and stationed in Vietnam in the 70’s

    Thank you.

  31. I was stationed at Phan Rang AB from Nov 1970 through April 1971 with the 17th FMS, 17 SOS (AC 119 G & K gunships). I worked on the FLIR, NOS and Fire Control. I would really like to get any information on Bill Yetter. I know he went to Thailand when the 17 was deactivated to work on AC-130’s. I was sent to Tan Son Nhut Air Base to work on RF-4C and RB-57’s.
    Thank you

  32. I was stationed at Phan Rang AB, RVN 1966-67 as an Mobile Tower Air Traffic Controller. The first day we arrived the Red Horse group dropped off building materials next to a cement pad. We ask them how long would it take them to erect a hootch for us. They “Replied there’s the tools and materials, go to it”! Luckily among the eight of us were some veterans that knew how to do it, along with our help. I flew two Spotter missions with USAF O1E pilot Lt. Rainey, flying through the mountain valleys looking for Viet Cong. Upon returning from my second mission our squadron commander called me in asking “What if you’re shot down during a mission? How will I replace you.” I smartly saluted the Major and assured him my mission flying times were over. During my off duty times I worked in the MARS Radio Station AI8AIR at night, helping both USAF and Army troops talk to their families, girl friends, etc., back in the U.S.A. Most of the time the conversations were pleasant. Now and then a troop who been at Phan Rang more than two or three months would hear his wife or girl friend start crying. When ask why, she replied “I’m pregnant”. Then all hell would break loose and I’d have to shut down the conversation due to explicit language. I also flew on a few Huey rides, one to Na Trang and one to an Army site and rode shotgun on resupply runs to Da Nang. Luckily I caught a few hops to Tan San Nuet and visit Saigon, plus eat some good food and the NCO Club. Sure would like to hear from some of our 1883rd Comm Sqdn Vet’s who may have been stationed at Phan Rang AB January 1996-97. My email [email protected]

  33. I was stationed in Phan Rang Jan 69-Jan 70

  34. i was at PRAB 69-70 ASSIGNED TO the 17th SOS Shadow Crew Chief AC927.Who else was there during May 69-May70. Howdy Phanrangers!!

  35. I was stationed at Happy Valley from September 1970 until May 1971. My unit was transferred there from Tuy Hoa after it was designated for closing. I was a number 3 man on a mms weapons load crew. Upon completion of my 12 months, I was transferred to Holloman AFB in New Mexico for my last year’s assignment. I was very fortunate to serve with a great bunch of guys in mms.

  36. My brother Joseph M Ferraro was in Vietnam in 1968-69. Anything on him?

  37. Looking for any one who knew Glenn Orn Fisher Jr who was in the Air Force from 1956-1970.
    I’m not sure where in Vietnam he was station.

  38. I was stationed at Phan Rang AB Oct 67 to Oct 68. I was a Medic at the 35th USAF Dispensary. First 7 months I ran our 12 bed ward and the last 5 months I worked in the ER. A lot of memories from 52 years ago. My best Buddy was Charlie Perry from Savannah GA, lost track of him in 1970. I’ll never forget my year at Phan Rang AB, it was a good assignment for me.

  39. Anyone knew of a Ssgt. Donald Raymond Sandve? My dad. He went to Vietnam on his birthday 11-11 of 65. He was K.I.A. on 1-6-66. Infantry.

  40. Two of my brothers served in Vietnam. One in the Marines and one a Navy medic. Charles Covington (Marines) and James Covington (Navy).

  41. I was stationed at Phan Rang Air Base from Sept. 1967 to Sept. 1968. I was in Phase inspection in the 614th squadron. I have only been able to contact Mark Monroe which was on the flight line while I was there. We stay in contact with each other constantly. If anyone was there and worked with me or knew me get in touch with me through my email [email protected]. I would love to hear from you.

  42. I was part of a gunship AC-119 “Shadow” flight engineer, based in Happy Valley for two tours of duty. Beautiful ancient old city. Most all of our sorties were at night, which left me time to explore during the day.

  43. My husband James Corwin Page was stationed there with the Idaho 116th engineer battalion somewhere between (1966-69).

  44. I believe that is where my father was in Vietnam about 1967. He was Air Force and worked on planes. SSgt George Rostron.

  45. I was one of approximately 60 of the last US forces to leave the base in late March, 1972. We were told to be off the base by sundown of the day the base was turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force.

  46. I was a surveyor in Vietnam and if my memory is correct I surveyed the Pham Rang air strip in 1966. It wasn’t a us base then. I’ll check my records and photos and post if I’m correct

  47. I was at Phan Rang in 1966 – 1967.
    Will enjoy hearing from anyone I played cards with, traveled into town, shared drinks, swam in the ocean,
    went up Route 1, heloed to the mountains as a door gunner, worked on the sue16, loaded the bombs, etc.
    Would like to find Maj. OB and others that knew him & me.

  48. My father was in Saigon with the airforce ground forces in Saigon during the tet offensive. My husband was there at the very end

  49. I was in the 311th Air Commando Sq/311th Special Ops Sq July ’68 to July ’69 as a Loadmaster on C-123K’s, SSgt. Spent 2 weeks at Phan Rang getting processed in before going to our OLAA at Da Nang, AB and another 2 weeks processing out. Flew in and out often. Met President Johnson’s son-in-law one time while there, he was a untrained Loadmaster. Lt Col Joe Jackson, MOH was my squadron Commander.
    Went to Tachikawa AB, Japan on C-130A’s, we flew out of Than Shan Nut on 2 week rotations.

  50. John P. Streb