Phu Cat Airbase Vietnam
May 1967 - May 1968
Comments to Angelo@Milioto.com


Base History    Phu Cat Today..


 

 

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Flight Line  <==Click for more photos.....

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From the Air  <==Click for more photos.....


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In the Shop  <==Click for more photos.....


   
Day in Qui Nhon    <==Click for more photos.....

Bob Hope Dec 26, 1967   <==Click for more photos.....

 
 
Fire Fights and Tet    <==Click for more photos.....

School in Cam Rhan Bay    <==Click for more photos.....
 

Going Home    <==Click for more photos.....

Here are my medals / ribbons.

I just had to show up to get them…..No big deal. 


Air Force Commendation Medal
 


National Defense Service Medal
 


Air Force Good Conduct Medal


Air Force Outstanding Unit Award


Vietnam Service Medal


Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
 


Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

 

Here are all the Air Force medals…..

http://www.usamilitarymedals.com/us-air-force-c-2071.html?ummID=85b89642eb316dba71280fefa94c78d7  

My ribbons on my uniform.

The insignia over my name was my instructor pin when I was an electronics teacher in the Air Force.

The arm insignia was my rank, which was a Staff Sergeant, E-5 (enlisted grade 5).

 

Base History

http://home.att.net/~g.rust/12/phuhist.htm

Phu Cat Air Base History


Prepared by: John F. Forgette, 104 South Garden Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-5818; (360) 671-5083, from information contained in his PHU CAT AIR BASE HISTORY PROJECT. The Project consists of 11 volumes of documents, photographs, narratives, stories, and rosters obtained through research of various sources and from Phu Cat Air Base veterans. The purpose of the Project is to document the history of Phu Cat Air Base and the units which served there from 1965 - 1975.

Introduction: Phu Cat Air Base, APO San Francisco 96368, Binh Dinh Province, II Corps, Republic of Vietnam, was the last in-country home of the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW). The wing designation was moved to Phu Cat Air Base on 1 April 1970, to replace the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing and its units which were inactivated on 31 March. 12TFW was inactivated at Phu Cat Air Base on 17 November 1971.

Assigned Units: During its tour at Phu Cat AB, the wing consisted of the following assigned units:

12th Combat Support Group
12th Field Maintenance Squadron
389th Tactical Fighter Squadron (F-4D aircraft)
412th Munitions Maintenance Squadron
480th Tactical Fighter Squadron (F-4C/D aircraft)
12th United States Air Force Dispensary
12th Avionics Maintenance Squadron

12th Combat Support Group subordinate units were:

12th Headquarters Squadron Section
12th Services Squadron
12th Civil Engineering Squadron
12th Transportation Squadron
12th Security Police Squadron

During the years 1966-1971, 41 tenant units have been identified as serving at Phu Cat Air Base.

Phu Cat Air Base:

Location: The base is located approximately 20 miles northwest of the city of Qui Nhon just off Route 1. It lies in a 10-mile wide lowland which stretches northwest from the South China Sea to the Central Highland mountains. With the exception of the lowlands which extend to the north and southeast, these mountains are on all sides of the base and range from three to six miles from the base perimeter. The lowland area is primarily devoted to the production of rice. The higher ground upon which the base is situated is surrounded by rice paddies and rolling terrain covered with dense underbrush and trees. A small portion of the southern perimeter is bordered by the Song Dap Da River and a portion of the northern perimeter by the Song La Vi River. The main north-south national railroad borders the south and east perimeters of the base. The railroad also separated the base from the Republic of Korea (ROK ) 1st Tiger Division, 1st Infantry Regiment, camp to the east. Prior to being secured by combined US and ROK forces during Operation Pershing in March 1966, the area now occupied by Phu Cat Air Base was a Viet Cong training center.

History:

1966: On 16 February 1966, during the initial survey to locate a new air base, LtCol William Harold Bodner was killed by a phosphorous mine on what was later designated Hill 151 (Bodner Hill). He and a party of engineers had landed on the hill from a 161st Aviation Company (Airmobility, Light) helicopter.

The site for the new air base was selected in March, and designated Base X. In April, ROK Tiger Division troops cleared the base area of Viet Cong forces. On 1 May, elements of RMK-BRJ civilian construction firms arrived to build a camp for themselves and ROK security units. By 1 June, a temporary 3000-foot airstrip and a few barracks were completed. The airstrip was used by new Air Force C-7A squadrons to deliver construction equipment and supplies. The railroad was used to deliver rock to the base site. By 1 August, all of the construction workers and 150 Air Force personnel were out of their tents and in barracks. On 4 August, Capt Robert M. Sullivan led a convoy of 53 security policemen and approximately 63 RED HORSE (819CES) engineers to the base. The security policemen were the first element of 37th Security Police Squadron which immediately began to assume security of the base from the ROK units. September 19 marked activation of 37th Combat Support Group. On December 20, concrete pouring commenced on the main runway; several records were set for the most concrete poured in a single day in Vietnam.

1967: During January 1967, as construction of the main runway, taxiways, barracks, warehouses, etc. progressed, more Air Force personnel and units arrived at Phu Cat Air Base. For example, 459th and 537th Tactical Airlift Squadrons (C-7A aircraft); 1041st USAF Police Squadron (Test), communications, medical airlift control, aircraft maintenance, aerial port, and civil engineering personnel arrived. On 1 March, 37th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated and assigned to Seventh Air Force. Base Operations was activated on March 15. On April 15, 37TFW began combat operations with strikes by 416TFS (F-100D aircraft) enroute from Bien Hoa AB to their new home at Phu Cat AB. Det 1, 612TFS (F-100D aircraft) began operations at Phu Cat AB on 8 June, after flying a mission enroute from their former home at Phan Rang AB. Also in June, Commando Sabre (Misty) was activated using F-100F aircraft as the first Fast FACs over North Vietnam. To date, three Misty pilots went on the four-star rank--W. L. Creech (TAC), Merrill A. McPeak (CofS), Ronald R. Fogleman (CofS). Misty-31 Bravo, George E. "Bud" Day, was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry while a POW. During the rest of 1967, base facilities expanded, population increased, and thousands of combat sorties were flown by the tactical squadrons. The University of Maryland opened classes on 15 August.

1968: On 3 February 1968, 355TFS (F-100D aircraft), from Myrtle Beach AFB, SC, was attached to 37TFW for six-months TDY. By 28 February, 37TFW squadrons completed 18,000 combat hours and 13,000 combat sorties without a major aircraft accident since 1 April 1967. On 14 May, 174TFS (F-100C aircraft), Iowa Air National Guard, arrived at Phu Cat AB. The wing was then composed of four F-100 combat squadrons. As 355TFS personnel completed their TDY, Air National Guardsmen from New Jersery and Washington DC replaced them. Fourteen of the squadron pilots and approximately 80% of the enlisted force were Guardsmen. By the end of the year the base was well established with all of the facilities of a typical Stateside base, except dependent housing.

1969: As of 3 January 1969, approximately 90 aircraft were assigned to Phu Cat AB. Those included the F-100s of the tactical fighter squadrons, HH-43B/R rescue helicopters, AC-47 gunships, C-7A airlifters, EC-47N/P electronic warfare planes, UC-123B/K Ranch Hands, and RF-101C and RF-4C photo reconnaissance planes. The year also marked the transition from F-100 to F-4 combat aircraft. Det 1, 612TFS (F-100D aircraft) departed on 13 April to make room for 48OTFS (F-4C, later D aircraft) from Da Nang AB. On 11 May, 174TFS (F-100C aircraft) returned to Sergeant Bluff (Sioux City), IA. 355TFS (F-100D) aircraft returned to Myrtle Beach, SC, on 15 May. On 27 May, 416TFW (F-100D aircraft) departed for Tuy Hoa AB. By the end of the month, Commando Sabre (Misty-FAC F-100F aircraft) was inactivated. 389TFS (F-4D aircraft) arrived from Da Nang AB on 24 June, to complete the transition to F-4 aircraft.

The year also marked the beginning of significant withdrawals of US forces from Vietnam including US Air Force units. While Phu Cat AB lost some personnel, the primary effect was shuffling of tenant units. As AC-47 "Spooky" gunships were turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force, they were replaced by AC-119G "Shadow" and then AC-119K "Stinger" aircraft. 361st Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (TEWS) (EC-47N/P aircraft) moved from Nha Trang AB to Phu Cat AB. 25th Casualty Staging Flight was inactivated at Phu Cat AB.

1970: The US withdrawals continued, resulting in the inactivation of 37TFW at Phu Cat AB. The wing assets remained, however, to be redesignated 12TFW when the designation was moved from Cam Ranh Bay AB, on 1 April. While at Phu Cat AB, all 12TFW aircraft used the call sign "COBRA." In June, 459TAS (C-7A aircraft) was inactivated at Phu Cat AB. The base RANCH HAND unit was redesignated "A" Flight, 310th Tactical Airlift Squadron as TAS and RANCH HAND units were consolidated in Vietnam.

Affecting all units and personnel was the increase in VC and NVA mortar and rocket attacks on the base. Until 1970, the base was relatively secure from stand-off and sapper attack because of the number of ROK and US Army units patrolling the area, and because of the 1041SPS(T) and later 37th & 12th SPS Cobra Flight aggressive patrols outside the immediate perimeter. As those forces were either withdrawn or downsized, security patrols were decreased.

1971: Personnel and unit withdrawals continued. The RANCH HAND mission was moved to Tan Son Nhut AB. Det 1, 608th Military Airlift Support Squadron was inactivated at Phu Cat AB. Aerial Port, Aerospace Rescue and Recovery, Communications, and Weather units were either inactivated, downsized, and/or redesignated. 537TAS (C-7A aircraft) was inactivated at Phu Cat AB and the aircraft turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force (NVAF) 429th Transportation Squadron (TS) being formed at Phu Cat AB. VNAF 431TS (C-7A aircraft) was also formed at Phu Cat AB. 361TEWS (EC-47N/P) aircraft departed Phu Cat AB.

On 8 October, 389TFS flew its last scheduled combat sortie in SEA. On 15 October, 389TFS (name only) was transferred without equipment and personnel to Mountain Home AFB, ID.

On 20 October, the 48OTFS flew its last combat mission, which was also the last combat sortie for 12TFW. The mission was against portions of the trail network in the tri-border area of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and consisted of four F-4Ds with 12 MK-82 LD bombs each. Thus the combat missions flown from Phu Cat AB ended as they began--interdiction and/or close air support.

On 26 October 1971, the deployment of 389TFS aircraft to Holloman AFB, NM, started when the first cell of six F-4Ds departed Phu Cat AB at 0645 local time, with the second cell of six leaving 30 minutes later. Crews for the deployment were selected from F-4 units throughout SEA. There were 13 12TFW crew members included in the deployments.

48OTFS F-4Ds were originally scheduled to also be redeployed to Holloman AFB; however, it was decided to distribute them within SEA. The last two F-4Ds of 12TFW departed Phu Cat AB on 2 November for Clark AB, PI. Other wing F-4Ds were sent to Ubon AB (four) and Udorn AB (six), Thailand; Da Nang AB, RVN (one); Clark AB, PI (five); Inspection and Repair as Necessary facilities in Taiwan (five).

The wing and its assigned units were inactivated at Phu Cat AB on 17 November 1971.

The 6259th Air Base Squadron and USAF Dispensary were activated at Phu Cat AB on 18 November to provide services to the Air Force personnel remaining at the base.

Inactivation of 12th Security Police Squadron was delayed until 23 December because of VNAF reluctance to assume base security duties.

1972: Phu Cat AB, RVN, was officially turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force on 1 January. In March Detachment 5009, 1005th Special Investigations Group (AFOSI) was inactivated at Phu Cat AB where it had provided intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination services since January 1967. Other US Air Force personnel remained on the base as instructors to VNAF C-7A (airlift) and A-37B (tactical fighter) units.

During the NVA Easter Offensive, VNAF units at Phu Cat Air Base were effective in halting the attacks down Highway 19 from Kontum/Pleiku toward Qui Nhon. Several VNAF units in other regions shifted detachments to Phu Cat AB. Phu Cat AB VNAF units also provided support for the South Vietnamese ground counteroffensive which began in July.

1973: During another NVA offensive into Binh Dinh province, Phu Cat Air Base VNAF units responded aggressively and effectively, both in stemming the attacks and in the subsequent South Vietnamese ground counteroffensive.

1974: No significant information about Phu Cat Air Base has been obtained.

1975: By March 6, Route 19 between Pleiku and Qui Nhon was cut in several places by NVA forces. That forced retreating ARVN and refugees columns onto undeveloped roads leading out of the highlands. VNAF 6th Air Division planes from Phu Cat Air Base dropped supplies to the columns and provided fire support to slow the NVA advance.

During evacuation of Pleiku throughout the night of March 14, VNAF C-130s shuttled in and out of Pleiku moving equipment and people to Phu Cat Air Base. When VNAF 6th AD commander arrived at Phu Cat Air Base from Pleiku he was designated the senior military commander for the area. Thus the base became a focal point for South Vietnamese ground and air combat operations. The A-37Bs at Phu Cat AB and Phan Rang AB flew an all-out effort. The two A-37B units put up the best fight of the war. Pilots in some cases loaded their own aircraft. VNAF troops fought as soldiers in defending the airfield at Phu Cat after ARVN soldiers pulled out. Targets struck by the A-37Bs were so close to the airfield that pilots hardly had time to get the gear up before dropping bombs. As the area became untenable, aircraft were evacuated to Bien Hoa and Phan Rang. Phu Cat Air Base and Qui Nhon fell to NVA forces on March 31.

 

Misty began with 16 pilots and four aircraft as
Detachment 1, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron,
Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam on 15 June 1967.

U.S. Air Force 12th Tactical Fighter Wing Association

Misty Vietnam Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phu_Cat_Air_Base

 

168 x 224

Phu Cat Air Base, 1966-1968
www.militaryvideo.com

 

Phu Cat Air Base

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phu_Cat_Air_Base

Coordinates: 13°57′18″N 109°02′32″E / 13.955, 109.04222

Phu Cat Air Base


2006 Image of Phu Cat Air Base
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phu_Cat_Air_Base
IATA: none ICAO:
 

Summary
Airport type military
Elevation AMSL 80 ft / 24 m
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
15/33 10,010 3,051 Concrete
For the civil use of this facility after 1975, see Phù Cát Airport

Phu Cat Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force (Khong Quan Nhan Dan Viet Nam) military airfield located in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. It is located just northwest of Qui Nhon within Binh Dinh Province along the central coast of Southern Vietnam.

Along with its use as a military airfield, a regional civilian airport operates from the facility.

During the Vietnam Wars (1955-1975), the base was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force Force (VNAF). The United States used it as a major base from 1966 through 1971,

Contents

[hide]

Origins

Phu Cat was one of several air bases developed in the former South Vietnam that was built by United States Air Force Civil Engineering "Red Horse" squadrons in 1966.

On 16 February 1966, during the initial survey to locate a new air base, LtCol William Harold Bodner was killed by a phosphorus mine on what was later designated Hill 151 (Bodner Hill). He and a party of engineers had landed on the hill from a 161st Aviation Company (Airmobility, Light) helicopter.

The site for the new air base was selected in March, and designated Base X. In April, Republic Of Korea (ROK) Tiger Division troops cleared the base area of Viet Cong forces. On 1 May, elements of RMK-BRJ civilian construction firms arrived to build a camp for themselves and ROK security units. By 1 June, a temporary 3000-foot airstrip and a few barracks were completed.

On 1 August, Capt Robert M. Sullivan led a convoy of 53 security policemen and approximately 63 Red Horse (819CES) engineers to the base. The security policemen were the first element of 37th Security Police Squadron which immediately began to assume security of the base from the ROK units. September 19 marked activation of 37th Combat Support Group. On December 20 concrete pouring commenced on the main runway; several records were set for the most concrete poured in a single day in Vietnam. By October, all military personnel were living in permanent structures.

During January 1967, as construction of the main runway, taxiways, barracks, warehouses, etc. progressed, more Air Force personnel and units arrived at Phu Cat Air Base. For example, 459th and 537th Tactical Airlift Squadrons (C-7A aircraft); 1041st USAF Police Squadron (Test), communications, medical airlift control, aircraft maintenance, aerial port, and civil engineering personnel arrived.

VNAF use of Phu Cat Air Base

South Vietnamese Air Force C-7 Caribu taking off from a muddy airstrip.
South Vietnamese Air Force UH-1 of the 243d Helicopter Squadron.
A-37s of the 532d Fighter Squadron.
Base Operations - 1968

As the Americans began to phase out of South Vietnam in 1970, Phu Cat Air Base was turned over to the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) in 1971. As part of the transfer of the base to the VNAF, former USAF de Havilland C-7A Caribus aircraft were transferred to the newly formed SVNAF 427th Transport Squadron at Phu Cat. As the inventory of Vietnamese Caribus increased, additional C-7A squadrons, the 492th and 431st was formed. In March 1973, the 427th and 431st squadrons were transferred to Da Nang Air Base.

During the 1972 NVA Easter Offensive, VNAF units at Phu Cat Air Base were effective in halting the attacks down Highway 19 from Kontum/Pleiku toward Qui Nhon. Several VNAF units in other regions shifted detachments to Phu Cat AB. Phu Cat AB VNAF units also provided support for the South Vietnamese ground counteroffensive which began in July.

During another NVA offensive into Binh Dinh province in 1973, Phu Cat Air Base VNAF units responded aggressively and effectively, both in stemming the attacks and in the subsequent South Vietnamese ground counteroffensive.

 Known VNAF units at Phu Cat (June 1974 Table Of Organization)

When the Vietnantication program ended USAF operations at the base, Phu Cat Air Base was under the command of the SVNAF 6th Air Division, Headquartered at Pleiku Air Base].

82d Tactical Wing

  • 532d Fighter Squadron A-37
  • 241st Helicopter Squadron CH-47A
  • 243d Helicopter Squadron UH-1
  • Det A 259th Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H (MEDEVAC)
  • 429th Transportation Squadron C-7

 USAF use during the Vietnam War

With its opening in 1967, Phu Cat became a major operational base. The USAF forces stationed there were under the command of the United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Seventh Air Force.

The APO for Phu Cat was APO San Francisco, 96368

 

 14th Special Operations Wing

The 14th Special Operations Wing based at Nha Trang Air Base stationed two squadrons at Phu Cat beginning in March 1966.

From Phu Cat, the wing performed close and direct air support, interdiction, combat airlift, aerial resupply, visual and photographic reconnaissance, un¬conventional warfare, counterinsurgency operations, psychological warfare (including leaflet dropping and aerial broadcasting), forward air con¬trol operations and FAC escort, search and rescue, escort for convoy and defoliation operations, flare drops, civic actions, and humanitarian actions.

In September 1969 the 8th Special Operations Squadron AC-47 "Spooky" gunships were turned over to the South Vietnamese Air Force, they were replaced by AC-119G "Shadow" and then AC-119K "Stinger" aircraft. Also in September, the 14th SOW 361st Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (TEWS) (EC-47N/P aircraft) moved from Nha Trang to Phu Cat.

In September 1971 the 14th SOW's squadrons were deactivated in place.

 

 315th Tactical Airlift Squadron

The 315th Air Commando Wing (Troop Carrier), based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base operated UC-123 aircraft at Phu Cat with the 310th Air Commando Squadron starting on 8 March 1966. These aircraft were used in "Operation Ranch Hand" missions to conduct aerial herbicide spraying for vegetation defoliation.

The 310th ACS was re-designated Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1967, and "A" Flight, 310th Tactical Airlift Squadron as Tactical Airlift units were consolidated in Vietnam during 1970.

On 10 January 1972 the squadron wsa deactivated.

 

 483rd Composite Wing

The 483rd Troop Carrier Wing was activated at Phu Cat AB on 15 October 1966. The name later was changed to the 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing and finally, during 1971, to the 483rd Composite Wing. The 483rd was headquartered at Cam Ranh Air Base and assigned two squadrons of C-7B "Caribou" light transports to Phu Cat for tactical airlift duties.

Operational squadrons at Phu Cat were:

During their five years' flying for the 483rd, the Caribous carried more than 4.7 million passengers, averaging more than one million a year during 1967, 68 and 69. At the same time the wing averaged more than 100,000 tons of cargo each year. The unique capabilities of the C-7 for short landing and takeoff made Caribou transports absolutely vital to the war effort. On many occasions the C-7s flew emergency airlift missions to airstrips and combat areas that no other aircraft could reach. Most notable were those in support of special forces camps in the central highlands.

The 483rd Composite Wing was inactivated on 15 May 1972.

 

 37th Tactical Fighter Wing

On 1 March 1967, the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated in place at Phu Cat to become the host unit. The 37th TFW received its manpower and equipment from various units transferred from the United States and elsewhere, and tactical operations did not commence until mid-April. The newly-formed wing was assigned to Seventh Air Force.

Its attached squadrons were:

  • 416th Tactical Fighter: 15 Apr 1967 - 27 May 1969 (F-100D/F Tail Code: HE)
  • Det 1, 612th Tactical Fighter: 8 Jun 1967 - 13 Apr 1969 (F-100D/F Tail Code: HS)

The 416th TFS was deployed from the 3d TFW at Bien Hoa AB, Det 1, 612th TFS from the 35th TFW at Phan Rang AB. On 15 April, the 37TFW began combat operations with strikes by 416TFS (F-100D aircraft) en route from Bien Hoa Air Base to their new home. On 8 June, Det 1., 612th TFS began operations, also after flying a mission en route from their former home at Phan Rang Air Base.

During the rest of 1967, base facilities expanded, population increased, and thousands of combat sorties were flown by the tactical squadrons. The University of Maryland University College opened classes on 15 August. By 28 February 1968, the 37th TFW squadrons completed 18,000 combat hours and 13,000 combat sorties without a major aircraft accident.

In the spring of 1968, these two squadrons were augmented by two additional squadrons deployed from CONUS:

  • 174th Tactical Fighter: 14 May 1968 - 11 May 1969 (Iowa ANG) (F-100C/F Tail Code: HA)
  • 355th Tactical Fighter: 3 Feb 1968 - 15 May 1969 (F-100D/F Tail Code: HP)

The 174th TFS was federalized Air National Guard personnel and aircraft from the 185th Tactical Fighter Group of the Iowa ANG at Sioux City MAP; the 355th TFS was deployed from the 354th TFW at Myrtle Beach AFB South Carolina. The wing was then composed of four F-100 combat squadrons.

As of 3 January 1969, approximately 90 aircraft were assigned to Phu Cat AB. Those included the F-100s of the tactical fighter squadrons, HH-43B/R rescue helicopters, AC-47 gunships, C-7A airlifters, EC-47N/P electronic warfare planes, UC-123B/K Ranch Hands, and RF-101C and RF-4C Phantom II photo reconnaissance planes.

1969 also marked the transition from F-100 to F-4 combat aircraft at Phu Cat. The Iowa ANG personnel and aircraft returned to CONUS in May 1969. As 355th TFS personnel completed their TDY that same month the personnel and aircraft returned to Myrtle Beach AFB. They were replaced by Air National Guardsmen from New Jersey and Washington DC, who were manning Myrtle Beach at the time. These newly deployed personnel were sent to Tuy Hoa Air Base along with their F-100 D/F aircraft.

In the spring of 1969, the 416th TFS and it's F-100s were transferred to Tuy Hoa Air Base, while Det 1., 612th TFS was returned to the 35th TFW, now at Phan Rang Air Base. Two F-4D squadrons were transferred from Da Nang Air Base replaced them:

  • 480th Tactical Fighter: 15 Apr 1969 - 31 Mar 1970 (F-4D Tail Code: HK)
  • 389th Tactical Fighter: 15 Jun 1969 - 31 Mar 1970 (F-4D Tail Code: HB)

The 389th and 480th were transferred with personnel and aircraft from Da Nang Air Base.

 

 12th Tactical Fighter Wing

As the United States withdrawals from Vietnam continued during 1970, it resulted in the inactivation of 37th TFW at Phu Cat AB on 31 March. The wing assets remained and were re-designated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing when the 12th TFW was moved without personnel or equipment from Cam Ranh Air Base on 1 April 1970, to replace the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing and its units.

Its attached squadrons were:

  • 389th Tactical Fighter: 31 Mar 1970 - 15 Oct 1971 (F-4D Tail Code: HB)
  • 480th Tactical Fighter: 31 Mar 1970 - 17 Nov 1971 (F-4D Tail Code: HK)

Affecting all units and personnel was the increase in communist mortar and rocket attacks on the base. Until 1970 the base was relatively secure from stand-off and sapper attack because of the number of South Korean (ROK) and US Army units patrolling the area, and because of the 1041th Security Police Squadron(T) and later the 37th & 12th SPS Cobra Flight aggressive recon patrols outside the immediate base perimeter. As those forces were either withdrawn or downsized, security patrols were decreased.

On 8 October, the 389th TFS flew its last scheduled combat sortie in Southeast Asia. On 15 October, the 389th TFS was deactivated in place and a name only transfer without equipment and personnel was made of the squadron to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

On 20 October, the 48Oth TFS flew its last combat mission, which was also the last combat sortie for 12th TFW. The final mission was against portions of the Ho Chi Minh trail network in the tri-border area of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and consisted of four F-4Ds with 12 MK-82 LD bombs each.

Thus the combat missions flown from Phu Cat AB ended as they began ...interdiction and/or close air support.

On 26 October 1971, the deployment of 389th TFS aircraft to Holloman AFB, New Mexico started when the first cell of six F-4Ds departed Phu Cat AB at 0645 local time, with the second cell of six leaving 30 minutes later. Crews for the deployment were selected from F-4 units throughout Southeast Asia. There were 13 12th TFW crew members included in the deployments.

480th TFS F-4Ds were originally scheduled to also be redeployed to Holloman AFB; however, it was decided to distribute them within Southeast Asia. The last two F-4Ds of 12TFW departed Phu Cat AB on 2 November for Clark AB, Philippines. Other wing F-4Ds were sent to Ubon AB (four) and Udon AB (six), Thailand; Da Nang AB (one); Clark AB (five); and the remaining to the Inspection and Repair as Necessary facilities (IRAN) at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base Taiwan (five).

With the departure of the aircraft, the 12th TFW was deactivated in place on 30 November 1971.

 

 6259th Air Base Squadron

The 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was deactivated on 17 November. The 6259th Air Base Squadron and a USAF Dispensary were activated at Phu Cat AB on 18 November to provide services to the Air Force personnel remaining at the base.

The 537TAS (C-7A aircraft) was inactivated at Phu Cat AB and the aircraft turned over to the South Vietnamese Air Force (SVNAF) 429th Transportation Squadron (TS) being formed at Phu Cat AB.

Phu Cat AB, RVN, was officially turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force on 1 January 1972. However, US Air Force personnel remained on the base as instructors to South Vietnamese Air Force C-7A (airlift) and A-37B (tactical fighter) units.

USAF personnel remained at Phu Cat until February 1973 when the 6259th ABS was inactivated after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

 USAF Aircraft at Phu Cat Air Base

 Phu Cat Unit Emblem Gallery

 Capture of Phu Cat Air Base

In early 1975 North Vietnam realized the time was right to achieve its goal of re-uniting Vietnam under communist rule, launched a series of small ground attacks to test U.S. reaction.

On 8 January the North Vietnamese Politburo ordered a major People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) offensive to "liberate" South Vietnam by NVA cross-border invasion. The NVA general staff plan for the invasion of South Vietnam called for 20 divisions, because, by 1975, the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army was the fifth largest in the world. It anticipated a two year struggle for victory.

By 14 March, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu decided to abandon the Central Highlands region and two northern provinces of South Vietnam and ordered a general withdrawal of ARVN forces from those areas. Instead of an orderly withdrawal, it turned into a general retreat, with masses of military and civilians fleeing, clogging roads and creating chaos.

By 6 March 1975 Route 19 between Pleiku and Qui Nhon was cut in several places by NVA forces. That forced retreating ARVN and refugees columns onto undeveloped roads leading out of the highlands. VNAF 6th Air Division planes from Phu Cat Air Base dropped supplies to the columns and provided fire support to slow the NVA advance.

During evacuation of Pleiku throughout the night of 14 March, VNAF C-130s shuttled in and out of Pleiku moving equipment and people to Phu Cat Air Base. When VNAF 6th AD commander arrived at Phu Cat Air Base from Pleiku he was designated the senior military commander for the area. Thus the base became a focal point for South Vietnamese ground and air combat operations.

The A-37Bs at Phu Cat AB and Phan Rang AB flew an all-out effort. The two A-37B units put up the best fight of the war. Pilots in some cases loaded their own aircraft.

VNAF troops fought as soldiers in defending the airfield at Phu Cat after ARVN soldiers pulled out. Targets struck by the A-37Bs were so close to the airfield that pilots hardly had time to get the gear up before dropping bombs.

As the area became untenable, aircraft were evacuated to Bien Hoa and Phan Rang. Phu Cat Air Base and Qui Nhon fell to NVA forces on 31 March 1975.

 See also

 References

This article incorporates text from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website which, as a United States government publication, is in the public domain.

 External links

Phu Cat Today....

 



From: David Finster [mailto:finster.d@comcast.net]
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 2:33 PM
To: Angelo@Milioto.com
Subject: www.milioto.com/phucat

Just happened to see your web site. I went back to Vietnam for the first time in 38 years in 2007, and one of the places I went through was Phu Cat airport (formerly air base!). <<...>> <<...>>
The two photos I’ve attached here may be of interest!
Welcome home!
David Finster
United Church of Christ Minister, Retired
Secretary, International Conference of War Veteran Ministers
Life Member, Vietnam Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans