What started out a one Special Forces 'camp' in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam (I Corps) grew into a group of ten (or eleven) "A-teams" in fortified encampments placed at strategic points in the I Corps Operational Area (AO).

A-Teams in I Corps

The Special Forces camps in Viet Nam were maintained principally for training CIDG and gathering of intelligence.  Some of our camps were hand-me-downs, so to speak.  The camp at Gia Vuc (A-103) was a remnant of the French occupation days.  Other camps were built as needed.  Some camps, such as the camp at A Shau Valley, we lost to enemy action.  (The battle over the Special Forces camp at A Shau resulted in the Congressional Medal of Honor for Capt. MacDonald.)

A-109 and A-103...

Thuong Duc lay west and slightly south of Da Nang, while Gia Vuc is located at the extreme southern end of I Corps. (Both locations are highlighted on the map.) Notice that the region called Annam Highlands encompasses the left-third of the map.  This is the area I refer to as the 'high plateau'. Approximately half-way between Gia Vuc and Thuong Duc is Ngoc Linh.  At 8500+ feet above sea level it is one of the highest points in Viet Nam.

The camp at Thuong Duc lay just east of A Shau Valley -- the route of the Ho Chi Minh trail.  During our orientation upon arrival at Thuong Duc, we were provided E&E instructions.  (E&E referred to Escape and Evasion -- 'plan B' if the camp were ever overrun.)  Basically, we were told to E&E (make our way) east and try to establish contact with friendly forces.   E&E south?  That was okay, too.  E&E to the north?  Not a problem.  But don't EVER E&E west!  Once across the ridge to the west, we counted the NVA in division strength -- not company strength! In the event our camp (A-109) was about to be overrun, the last person out was supposed to radio Da Nang for 'neutralization fire'.   "What the hell is neutralization fire?" I asked.  The captain smiled and said that the big WW II battleships lay literally right off the coast.  "You know, these are the ships with the sixteen-inch guns!"  These ships will lay on a fire mission for our camp's map coordinates and put a barrage of 16" shells right smack in the middle of our compound.  "That means it will rain 1-ton shells right where we are standing."  Thankfully... we never had to test this part of our evacuation plan. 

Sorry... I got a little distracted there.  Back to the subject of A-Team camps.

In order to gather this intelligence they positioned our camps at remote sites near strategic travelways.  (Like A Shau Valley)   The only way in or out of these camps was by air.  Many times the choppers would leave Da Nang and stop at several camps, dropping off men, mail, and small supplies.   The stops at other camps provided a quick opportunity to snap one or two photos of these camps.  Therefore, I present my quick photos of Special Forces camps A-107, A-104, and A-108.

A-104 Ha Thanh

Don't get airsick as we spiral in over the camp!

Pop quiz!

Why would the chopper come in high over the camp and spiral down to land?

To avoid 'ground fire'
-- VC shooting at the chopper from the ground!

A-107 Tra Bong

Camp A-107 was located almost due north of Gia Vuc. (See map above)

In typical SF fashion it was basically a camp within a camp.

Notice the system of trenches to allow protected travel between locations in the camp.

A-107 Tra Bong

A more oblique view of Special Forces camp A-107. Notice the proximity to the river.

Team members 'popped smoke' for the in-bound chopper. (Reddish area right of center)

A-108 Minh Long

Looks like the early days at A-108, although I do not remember the camp as 'being built' during this timeframe.

The photo may have been taken at a less-than-optimum angle. It does look like the air strip is just being built and I do not see any 'mature' fortifications in the photo.

Notice surrounding terrain.

Well... you've gotten a quick view of several other Special Forces camps in I Corps. For a peek at a III Corps Special Forces camp (A-342), go to the III Corps page in the Vietnam Info section of SouthEast Asia menu. You will be able to contrast their camp (and terrain) with that of the I Corps camps.