Phù Cát Air Base
Phù Cát Air Base was a United States Air Force and Republic of Vietnam Air Force facility used during the Vietnam War. It is located north of the city of Qui Nhơn in southern Vietnam. In late 1965, with the buildup of US airpower in South Vietnam, the existing air bases were becoming overcrowded. In September, plans to build an air base at Qui Nhon were suspended when the site conditions were found to be unsuitable. In January 1966 a site in Phù Cát District 24 km north of Qui Nhon was identified. In late February 1966 Military Assistance Command, Vietnam decided to build a new jet-capable base at Phù Cát. In April 1966 forces from the Republic of Korea Army Tiger Division secured the area for base construction, with the construction crews arriving in May; the Vietcong harassed construction with booby-traps and sniper fire killing 3 Korean soldiers. On 23 December 1966 USAF units began moving to the half-completed base. At this time the runway was a 3,000-foot long dirt strip while the taxiways and parking areas were covered in Pierced steel planking.
The 459th and 537th Troop Carrier Squadrons both equipped with C-7As began operations from the base on 1 January 1967. Base facilities by this time included wooden barracks, a mess hall, recreation facilities and utilities. By late March 1967 a 10,000-foot by 125-foot asphalt runway together with sealed taxiways and parking aprons had been completed. In the year a fuel line was constructed to the base from a tank facility on the outskirts of Qui Nhon; the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing began operations from the base in April 1967. The 37th TFW comprised the following F-100 equipped squadrons: 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, transferred from the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Bien Hoa Air Base Detachment 1, 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron, transferred from the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phan Rang Air BaseWhile based at Phù Cát, a detachment from the 416th pioneered fast Forward Air Control operations using two-seat F-100Fs under the code-name Commando Sabre and the call sign Misty. In September 1967 a detachment from the 4th Air Commando Squadron equipped with 4 AC-47 Spooky gunships began operating from the base.
In September 1969 the 4th Air Commando Squadron ceased operating from the base and moved its forward operating base to Da Nang Air Base. On 3 February 1968 the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron was attached to the 37th TFW. On 5 May 1968 the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron an Iowa Air National Guard unit equipped with F-100Cs deployed to Phù Cát AB. Detachment 13 of the 38th Air Rescue Squadron would be established at the base, renamed Detachment 13, 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group in July 1971, it would remain there until November 1971 when it was inactivated. On 13 April 1969, Detachment 1 612th TFS left the base and was replaced by the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron equipped with F-4Cs which moved from Da Nang AB. On 11 May the 174th TFS returned followed by the 355th TFS on 15 May. On 27 May the 416th TFS transferred to Tuy Hoa Air Base and the Commando Sabre Fast FACs were inactivated. On 24 June the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron equipped with F-4Ds transferred to the base from Da Nang AB.
In November B Flight, 18th Special Operations Squadron equipped with 3 AC-119K gunships deployed to the base where they operated against supply routes in Laos. During 1969 40 concrete and steel "Wonderarch" aircraft shelters were constructed at the base. On 1 February 1970 the base was hit by a People's Army of Vietnam rocket attack killing one Airman and wounding 15 others. In March B Flight 18th SOS moved to Da Nang AB, while A Flight 17th Special Operations Squadron equipped with AC-119Gs moving from Tuy Hoa Air Base replaced them at Phù Cát AB. On 1 April the 37th TFW was redesignated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing. In June the 459th Troop Carrier Squadron was inactivated; the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron would be inactivated during the year with its aircraft transferred to the RVNAF. On 29 December A Flight 17th SOS was inactivated and its aircraft transferred to B Flight at Phan Rang AB. On 31 August 1971 the 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron equipped with EC-47N/Ps departed from the base.
On 8 October the 389th TFS flew its last combat mission and on 26 October its aircraft began returning to the US. On 20 October the 480th TFS flew its and the 12th TFW's last combat mission and on 17 November 1971 the 12th TFW was inactivated. On 23 December 12 Security Police Squadron was inactivated. On 1 January 1972 the base was formally turned over to the RVNAF; the 412st Transport Squadron formed at the base in 1970 operating C-7As inherited from the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron. On 17 May 1974 the base was attacked by 3rd Division; the attack was repulsed by the 263rd Battalions of the South Vietnamese Regional Forces. In mid-March 1975 Qui Nhon and Phù Cát AB were defended by the ARVN 40th Regiment and the Bình Định Regional Forces, however the 40th Regiment was soon redeployed to Khanh Duong to keep open the route for ARVN escaping from Buôn Ma Thuột; the 2nd Air Division provided air support for the 22nd Division and was trying to destroy equipment abandoned during the evacuation of Pleiku.
On the morning of 30 March the Regional Forces defending the base abandoned their positions and by afternoon the base was under attack by VC who were held back by the base security forces. With more VC gathering for renewed attacks, the base commander contacted the 92nd Air Wing at Phan Rang AB for help; the Wing commander, Colonel Le Van Thao organised a flight of 40 A-37s and they carried out
South Vietnam the Republic of Vietnam, was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam", a constitutional monarchy; this became the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon. South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast; the Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed on 26 October 1955, with Ngô Đình Diệm as its first president, after having served as premier under Emperor Bao Dai, exiled. Its sovereignty was recognized by the United States and 87 other nations, it had membership in several special committees of the United Nations, but its application for full membership was rejected in 1957 because of a Soviet veto.
South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam, Cochinchina, a subdivision of French Indochina, the southern half of Central Vietnam or Annam, a French protectorate. After the Second World War, the anti-Japanese Viet Minh guerrilla forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, proclaimed the establishment of a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi in September 1945, issuing a Declaration of Independence modeled on the U. S. one from 1776. In 1949, anti-communist Vietnamese politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bảo Đại. Bảo Đại was deposed by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955, who proclaimed himself president after a referendum. Diệm was killed in a military coup led by general Dương Văn Minh in 1963, a series of short-lived military governments followed. General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu led the country after a U. S.-encouraged civilian presidential election from 1967 until 1975. The beginnings of the Vietnam War occurred in 1959 with an uprising by the newly organized National Liberation Front for South Vietnam and supported by the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam, with other assistance rendered by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact communist satellites, along with neighboring People's Republic of China and North Korea.
Larger escalation of the insurgency occurred in 1965 with the landing of United States regular forces of Marines, followed by Army units to supplement the cadre of military advisors guiding ARVN southern forces. A regular bombing campaign over North Vietnam was conducted by offshore U. S. Navy airplanes and aircraft carriers joined by Air Force squadrons through 1966 and 1967. Fighting peaked up to that point during the Tet Offensive of February 1968, when there were over a million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U. S. soldiers in South Vietnam. On the war turned into a more conventional fight as the balance of power became equalized. An larger, armored invasion commenced during the Easter Offensive following US ground-forces withdrawal, had nearly overran some major northern cities until beaten back. Despite a truce agreement under the Paris Peace Accords, concluded in January 1973, after a torturous five years of on and off negotiations, fighting continued immediately afterwards; the North Vietnamese regular army and Viet Cong launched a major second combined-arms invasion in 1975, termed the Spring Offensive.
Communist forces overran Saigon on 30 April 1975. On the day President Duong Van Minh declared RVN cease to exist, five ARVN generals, one Saigon police chief, numbers of ARVN soldiers and officers commit suicide to avoid being humiliated surrender. On July 2, 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; the official name of the South Vietnamese state was Việt Nam Cộng hòa and the French name was referred to as République du Viêt Nam. The North was known as the "Democratic Republic of Vietnam". Việt Nam was the name adopted by Emperor Gia Long in 1804, it is a name used in ancient times. In 1839, Emperor Minh Mạng renamed the country Đại Nam. In 1945, the nation's official name was changed back to "Vietnam"; the name is sometimes rendered as "Viet Nam" in English. The term "South Vietnam" became common usage in 1954, when the Geneva Conference provisionally partitioned Vietnam into communist and non-communist parts.
Other names of this state were used during its existence such as Free Vietnam and the Government of Viet Nam. Before World War II, the southern third of Vietnam was the concession of Cochinchina, administered as part of French Indochina. A French governor-general in Hanoi administered all the five parts of Indochina while Cochinchina was under a French governor, but the difference from the other parts was that most indigenous intellensia and wealthy were naturalized French The northern third of Vietnam (then the colony of Tonkin was under
Phan Rang Air Base
Phan Rang Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield in Vietnam. It is located 5.2 miles north-northwest of Phan Rang – Tháp Chàm in Ninh Thuận Province. Built by the Imperial Japanese Army about 1942, the airfield was used by the French Air Force during the First Indochina War abandoned in 1954; the United States rebuilt the airfield in 1965 and it was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the II Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam. It was seized by the People's Army of Vietnam in April 1975 and has been in use by the VPAF since; the airfield at Phan Rang was used by the Japanese during World War II. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the French Air Force used the same 3,500-foot runway, abandoned the facility when French control over Indochina ended in 1954. In April 1965 CINCPAC instructed an engineering survey for a new airfield at Phan Rang. In July 1965 it was planned that 3 fighter squadrons would be deployed to Phan Rang Air Base once it was completed in October.
In late-August 1965 the newly arrived US Army 62nd Engineer Battalion was ordered to build a jet-capable airfield at Phan Rang. Commencing construction in September the Army Engineers built a 10,000-foot AM-2 aluminum matting runway and open aircraft revetments. Bad weather and shortages of concrete and aluminum matting delayed the base construction, with the completion date progressively delayed to December 1965 and April 1966. With the movement of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division to Phan Rang to provide security for base construction the 62nd Engineer Battalion was required to construct a base for the 1st Brigade. While the 62nd Engineers constructed the temporary runway, American construction consortium RMK-BRJ was working on a permanent 10,000-foot concrete runway and parking areas. In January 1966 the USAF 554th RED HORSE Squadron arrived at the base to assist with construction; the temporary aluminum runway became operational on 20 February and by mid-March all the interim facilities were operational.
Heavy rain in May 1966 and rushed construction led to damage to the aluminum runway and taxiways and in June the 62nd Engineers rebuilt the taxiways while the 554th RED HORSE and RMK-BRJ rebuilt the runway, reducing its available length to 6,000-foot. The 62nd Engineers built a 46,000-barrel fuel storage area, a six-inch pipeline to the beach and two 8-inch submarine pipelines from the beach to an offshore floating mooring and discharge facility. On 12 October 1966 RMK-BMJ completed 4 connecting taxiways. By the end of the year the base was completed with powerplant and sewage system, operations and other structures; the USAF forces stationed there were under the command of the United States Pacific Air Forces Seventh Air Force. In addition, the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps had aviation and other support units stationed at Phan Rang. Due to the delays in completion of the base, the F-4C Phantom II equipped 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron was diverted from Phan Rang to Cam Ranh Air Base and the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron went to Da Nang Air Base.
On 14 March 1966 the F-4C equipped 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron arrived at the base becoming the first USAF squadron to deploy there. On 20 March 1966 the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing was the first permanent USAF organization to be stationed at Phan Rang Air Base; the rain damage to the base in May 1966 delayed the deployment of the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron from Cam Ranh AB and the 480th TFS from Da Nang AB. The squadrons assigned to the 366th TFW during this period were: 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 15 August 1966 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron Detachment 1, 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 15 May 1966 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 18 September 1966 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 16 July 1966The US population at the base increased from 118 in March 1966 to over 4,500 in September 1966; this increase led to pressure on accommodation and maintenance facilities which were still under construction. On 10 October 1966, the 366th TFW and the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron moved to Da Nang AB and the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang AB moved to Phan Rang.
On 10 October 1966 the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing took over as the host unit at Phan Rang. Units assigned to the 35th TFW were: 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 30 April 1968 – 18 April 1969 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 8 January 1967 and 14 April 1969 – 15 March 1971 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 Missions included air support of ground forces, interdiction and armed reconnaissance, strike assessment photography, escort and direct air support, rapid reaction alert, it struck enemy bases and supply caches in the Parrot's Beak just inside the Cambodian border, April–May 1970 and provided close air support and interdiction in support of South Vietnamese operations in Laos and Cambodia, January–June 1971. The B-57 Canberra equipped 8th and 13th Bombardment Squadrons relocated to Phan Rang with the 35th TFW. B-57 units assigned to the 35th TFWA at Phan Rang w
The Vietnamese Rangers, properly known in Vietnamese as the Biệt Động Quân and known as the ARVN Rangers, were the light infantry of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trained and assisted by American Special Forces and Ranger advisers, the Vietnamese Rangers infiltrated beyond enemy lines in daring search and destroy missions. Trained as a counter-insurgency light infantry force by removing the fourth company each of the existing infantry battalions, they expanded into a swing force capable of conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, were relied on to retake captured regions. During Vietnamization the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was transferred from MACV and integrated as Border Battalions responsible for manning remote outposts in the Central Highlands. Rangers were regarded as among the most effective units in the war, the most well-led ARVN unit and formed part of the highly-mobile response units operating in key areas. Part of this was due to the specialized role of these units, given that they had their origins in French-raised Commando Units, the GCMA which were drawn from Viet Minh defectors and Tai-Kadai groups, operating in interdiction and counter-intelligence roles, were trained for counter-insurgency and rough-terrain warfare in the region.
Ranger Units had a US Military Adviser attached to these units although operated independently. The foremost counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson remarked in 1974 that the ARVN as a whole were the third-best trained army in the free-world and second only to the Israelis in counter-insurgency, with the Rangers, ARVN Airborne and Marine Division forming the vanguard. With improvements in the ARVN from 1969 onward and the growing prestige of the Airborne and Marine Division, depredation had caused the Central Highlands-based Rangers to become manned by deserters, released convicts and Montagnards the unit continued to perform critical roles in the Easter Offensive and frontier skirmishes in 1973 and 1974. A total of 11 U. S Presidential Unit Citation were issued to the 22 original Ranger Battalions, including one unit whom earned three total citations from two different presidents. See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam; the French established a commando school in Nha Trang in 1951.
After the American Military Assistance Advisory Group took over the military advisory role, the school was converted to a Ranger school in 1956. In 1960, when the Vietnam War began in earnest, the Vietnamese Rangers were formed. Rangers organized into separate companies with U. S. Army Rangers were assigned as advisers as members of the Mobile Training Teams, at Ranger Training Centers, at the unit level as members of the Military Advisory Command Vietnam. A small number of Vietnamese Ranger officers were selected to attend the U. S. Army Ranger School at Ft. Benning. In 1962, BDQ companies were formed into counter-insurgency Special Battalions but by 1963 Ranger units were organized into battalions and their mission evolved from counter-insurgency to light infantry operations. During 1966, the battalions were formed into task forces, five Ranger Group headquarters were created at corps level to provide command and control for tactical operations; the Ranger Group structure was maintained until 1970 as U.
S. force reduction commenced. The Civilian Irregular Defense Group situated along the Laotian and Cambodian borders under control of 5th U. S. Special Forces Group, was integrated into the Ranger command. Thus, the Rangers assumed an expanded role of border defense; the conversion of CIDG camps to 37 combat battalions with 14,534 men, more than doubled the Ranger force size. Within the early 1970s before the fall of Saigon, the rangers lost its appeal. Although many wanted to join the ranks of the Rangers, the popularity of the Airborne and Marine divisions grew at a faster rate. Many Rangers Battalions were decimated during Operation Lam Son 719. Part of the reason for this was orders by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu to halt advances into Laos, just as these units inserted by helicopter had captured the objective, allowing for the newly-armoured 308th Division to move in and surround the outposts. Several Ranger Groups would face well-camouflaged armoured and artillery attacks during the Battle of Kontum and Battle of An Lộc as well as other engagements in the Easter Offensive.
Ordered to defend every inch by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, the Ranger Group and regular units were deployed across the 1300 km border. This had left the region vulnerable to well-coordinated piercing attacks from Trần Văn Trà and the B2 Front. A series of contradictory orders from Thieu, a strategy known as "Light at the Top, Heavy at the Bottom" in which President Thieu neither consulted with his staff nor advisers had sealed the end of the Rangers; the Central Highlands were to be abandoned held orders to recapture major cities, followed by another order to retreat had created disarray which the armored, heavy artillery and mobile infantry of the PAVN seized upon. In the closing days of the war in 1975 most Ranger units were destroyed. Many fought back independently. In Saigon, Rangers fought until the morning of 30 April when they were ordered to lay down their arms, as their nation-The Republic of Vietnam capitulated to the communist force. Most of the Ranger officers were considered too dangerous by the communist government and sentenced to long periods of incarceration in the "re-education" camps.
There were Ranger liaison platoons of 45 to 52 men assigned to each ARVN Corps/CTZ headquarters. They were supposed to insure the "proper use" of the Rangers. At their height in 1975 there
1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt
On November 11, 1960, a failed coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was led by Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông and Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The rebels launched the coup in response to Diệm's autocratic rule and the negative political influence of his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and his sister-in-law Madame Nhu, they bemoaned the politicisation of the military, whereby regime loyalists who were members of the Ngô family's covert Cần Lao Party were promoted ahead of more competent officers who were not insiders. Đông was supported in the conspiracy by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, whose uncle was a prominent official in a minor opposition party. The main link in the coup was Đông's commanding officer Thi; the coup caught the Ngô family off-guard, but was chaotically executed. The plotters neglected to seal the roads leading into the capital Saigon to seal off loyalist reinforcements, they hesitated after gaining the initiative.
After being trapped inside the Independence Palace, Diệm stalled the coup by holding negotiations and promising reforms, such as the inclusion of military officers in the administration. In the meantime, opposition politicians joined the fray. However, the president's real aim was to buy time for loyalist forces to enter the capital and relieve him; the coup failed when the 5th and 7th Divisions of the ARVN defeated the rebels. More than four hundred people—many of whom were civilian spectators—were killed in the ensuing battle; these included a group of anti-Diệm civilians who charged across the palace walls at Thi's urging and were cut down by loyalist gunfire. Đông and Thi fled to Cambodia, while Diệm berated the United States for a perceived lack of support during the crisis. Afterwards, Diệm ordered a crackdown, imprisoning numerous anti-government critics and former cabinet ministers; those that assisted Diệm were duly promoted. A trial for those implicated in the plot was held in 1963. Seven officers and two civilians were sentenced to death in absentia, while 14 officers and 34 civilians were jailed.
Diệm's regime accused the Americans of sending Central Intelligence Agency members to assist the failed plot. When Diệm was assassinated after a 1963 coup, those jailed after the 1960 revolt were released by the new military junta; the revolt was led by 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông, a northerner, who had fought with the French Union forces against the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War. Trained at Fort Leavenworth in the United States, Đông was regarded by American military advisers as a brilliant tactician and the brightest military prospect of his generation and he served in the Airborne Division. Back in Vietnam, Đông became discontented with Diệm's arbitrary rule and constant meddling in the internal affairs of the army. Diệm promoted officers on loyalty rather than skill, played senior officers against one another in order to weaken the military leadership and prevent them from challenging his rule. Years after the coup, Đông asserted that his sole objective was to force Diệm to improve the governance of the country.
Đông was clandestinely supported by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, the director of training at the Joint General Staff School, Hong's uncle Hoang Co Thuy. Thuy was a wealthy Saigon-based lawyer, had been a political activist since World War II, he was the secretary-general of a minority opposition party called the Movement of Struggle for Freedom, which had a small presence in the rubber-stamp National Assembly. Many Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers were members of other anti-communist nationalist groups that were opposed to Diệm, such as the Đại Việt Quốc dân đảng and the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, which were both established before World War II; the VNQDĐ had run a military academy in Yunnan near the Chinese border with the assistance of their nationalist Chinese counterparts, the Kuomintang. Diệm and his family had crushed all alternative anti-communist nationalists, his politicisation of the army had alienated the servicemen. Officers were promoted on the basis of political allegiance rather than competence, meaning that many VNQDĐ and Đại Việt trained officers were denied such promotions.
They felt that politically minded officers, who joined Diệm's secret Catholic-dominated Cần Lao Party, used to control South Vietnamese society, were rewarded with promotion rather than those most capable. Planning for the coup had gone on with Đông recruiting disgruntled officers; this included Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi. In 1955, Thi had fought for Diệm against the Bình Xuyên organised crime syndicate in the Battle for Saigon; this performance so impressed Diệm—a lifelong bachelor—that he thereafter referred to Thi as "my son". However, the Americans who worked with Thi were less impressed; the CIA described Thi as "an opportunist and a man lacking strong convictions". An American military advisor described Thi as "tough and fearless, but dumb". There is some dispute as to. According to some sources, Thi was still an admirer of Diệm and was forced at gunpoint by Đông and his supporters to join the coup at the last minute, having been kept unaware of the plotting. According to this story, Thi's airborne units were moved into position for the coup without his knowledge.
Many months before the coup, Đông had met Diệm's brother and adviser Ngô Đình Nhu regarded as the brains of the regi
Pleiku Air Base
Pleiku Air Base is a former air force base in Vietnam. It was established by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force in 1962 at an undeveloped airstrip, was used by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the II Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam, it was abandoned for many years. Today, the facility has been redeveloped as Pleiku Airport. In January 1962, the U. S. Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam requested the Department of Defense contract construction agent, the U. S. Navy Officer in Charge of Construction RVN, to design and construct a 6,000-foot runway at Pleiku; the MAAG wanted the air field to be operational as a top priority by 1 July 1962. Although the design had not yet been started, the OICC tasked RMK-BRJ, the construction contractor, to begin work on 19 January, they installed 6,000 feet of pierced steel plank runway with over-runs, a parallel taxiway, aprons at a cost of $2.7 million. The airfield was completed on 20 June 1962. RMK-BRJ returned in 1964 to replace the PSP runway with three-inch asphalt pavement.
The RVNAF staged 1st Fighter Squadron staged AD-6 Skyraiders at Pleiku AB from late 1961 and this force was increased to 4 A-1s and a C-47 flareship. In December 1962 Pleiku Air Base was activated by the RVNAF as Air Base 62 and in March 1964 Air Base 62 became the RVNAF 62d Tactical Wing; the RVNAF 1141st Observation Squadron moved to Pleiku from Da Nang Air Base in January 1965. The 62d Wing and a detachment of the 516th Fighter Squadron moved to Nha Trang Air Base. Pleiku Air Base was managed by the RVNAF 92d Base Support Group and the base was used as a staging and emergency airfield; as North Vietnamese infiltration increased within and along the Laotian and Cambodian borders the importance of Pleiku Air Base increased, base facilities were expanded and improved by American Army and Air Force civil engineering units. The base was jointly used for both RVNAF and USAF air activities, but never reached the saturation and population proportions of the major air bases of the coastal lowlands.
The USAF forces stationed at Pleiku were under the jurisdiction of the Seventh Air Force, United States Pacific Air Forces. The APO for Pleiku was APO San Francisco, 96318; the 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron, code named Farm Gate began operations in South Vietnam in 1961. In 1962 a detachment of Farm Gate B-26 Invaders began operations from Pleiku AB and by February 1963 this had grown to 6 B-26s and 1 C-47. In March 1962 the II Air Support Operations Center became operational at the base. In June 1962 Detachment 1, 6220th Air Base Squadron was activated at the base. In December 1962 Detachment 3, 8th Aerial port Squadron was activated at the base. In late 1964 a detachment of 2 HH-43Bs were stationed at the base for rescue and local search and rescue. On 15 September 1965 this detachment was redesignated as Detachment 9, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On 16 February 1970 Detachment 9 was moved from Pleiku AB to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. In mid-1965 Pleiku AB became a forward operating location for 4 AC-47 Spooky gunships of B Flight, 4th Air Commando Squadron.
By December 1969 B Flight had been reduced to 2 AC-47s as the aircraft was phased out of USAF service. In September 1965 the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron equipped with 30 O-1 Bird Dogs began operating from Pleiku AB; the 633d Combat Support Group was activated at the base on 14 March 1966 taking over the duties of the provisional 6234th Air Base Squadron which had managed construction and other activities at the base after the RVNAF moved to Nha Trang. The A-1 equipped 1st Air Commando Squadron moved to Pleiku on 1 January 1966 from Bien Hoa Air Base where it had operated as part of Farm Gate; the 1st Air Commando Squadron moved to Nakhon Phanom RTAFB in early 1967. During 1966 USAF personnel assigned to the base increased from 150 to over 2500. In September 13 barracks housing 900 men were completed and in October a further 10 barracks were completed; the 9th Air Commando Squadron was activated at Pleiku on 25 January 1967 flying special operations missions using modified C-47s and O-2B Skymasters.
During its active service, the 9th ACS flew combat missions, including air support for ground forces, air cover for transports and night interdiction, combat search and rescue support, armed reconnaissance, forward air control. The squadron relocated to Nha Trang Air Base on 1 November 1967. In late October 1967, some of the 604th Air Commando Squadron Combat Dragon A-37A Dragonflys moved to the base from Bien Hoa AB to perform armed and visual reconnaissance missions and night interdiction flights in the Tiger Hound operational area over southeastern Laos. From 1968 to 27 June 1972 the 362d Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron flying specially-equipped EC-47s were assigned to Pleiku; these aircraft were equipped with various electronic warfare components. The 633rd Special Operations Wing was activated at Pleiku on 15 July 1968, its mission was to provide close air support and night interdiction, visual and photo reconnaissance. The only unit assigned to the 633d Special Operations Wing was the 6th Special Operations Squadron equipped with 20 A-1E/H which deployed to Pleiku on 29 February 1968.
During the stay at Pleiku, the squadron maintained a forward SAR alert unit at Da Nang Air Base from 1 April 1968 – 1 September 1969. The squadron was inactivated in place on 15 November 1969. With the departure of its personnel in late 1969, a small group remained at Pleiku for a short period of time to advise the RVNAF; the 633d Wing inactivated on 15 March 1970. For its actions at Pleiku Air Base, the wing was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award – with Combat "V" Device and the Republic Of Vietnam Gal
1962 South Vietnamese Independence Palace bombing
The 1962 South Vietnamese Independence Palace bombing in Saigon was an aerial attack on 27 February 1962 by two dissident Republic of Vietnam Air Force pilots, Second Lieutenant Nguyễn Văn Cử and First Lieutenant Phạm Phú Quốc. The pilots targeted the Independence Palace, the official residence of the President of South Vietnam, with the aim of assassinating President Ngô Đình Diệm and his immediate family, who acted as his political advisors; the pilots said they attempted the assassination in response to Diệm's autocratic rule, in which he focused more on remaining in power than on confronting the Vietcong, a Marxist–Leninist guerilla army who were threatening to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. Cử and Quốc hoped that the airstrike would expose Diệm's vulnerability and trigger a general uprising, but this failed to materialise. One bomb penetrated a room in the western wing where Diệm was reading but failed to detonate, leading the president to claim that he had "divine" protection.
With the exception of Diệm's sister-in-law Madame Nhu, who suffered minor injuries, the Ngô family were unscathed. Three palace staff died and 30 were injured. Afterwards, Cử escaped to Cambodia. In the wake of the airstrike, Diệm became hostile towards the American presence in South Vietnam. Diệm claimed that the American media was seeking to bring him down and he introduced new restrictions on press freedom and political association; the media speculated that the United States would use the incident to justify the deployment of combat troops to South Vietnam. S. remained circumspect. Domestically, the incident was reported to have increased plotting against Diệm by his officers. Cử was the second son of a leader of the VNQDD, which opposed the Diệm regime. In 1960, Diệm had jailed Lực for one month for engaging in "anti-government activities"; the VNQDD planned that Cử and Quốc, another pilot from the same squadron, would attack the Independence Palace on 27 February. Quốc had been commended by Diệm for his achievements in combat, having been honoured as one of the best pilots in the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.
Quốc had relatives who were involved with the VNQDD. Cử recruited Quốc by claiming the Vietnamese armed services and the United States were aware of the plot, showing him a Newsweek article critical of Diệm as evidence. Quốc had more subordinates but was not sure of their loyalty, so he did not try to recruit them for the attack on the palace. Years Cử blamed Diệm's treatment of opposition parties as the motivation for his attack, he believed that Diệm had prioritised remaining in power over fighting the VC and that, for six years, Cử had been denied promotion because of Diệm's obsession with hindering political opponents. Cử criticised the Americans for having supported Diệm, saying: "the Americans had slammed the door on those of us who wanted the fight against the communists". Quốc and Cử, who were trained in France and the United States were given orders to fly from Saigon to the Mekong Delta in an early morning mission against the Vietcong, an armed Marxist guerilla army who wished to overthrow the government and who had backing from the Marxist government of North Vietnam.
The communists had been involved in attacks on Army of the Republic of Vietnam units 60 km south of the capital and had inflicted heavy damage. Instead of proceeding south from Bien Hoa Air Base as ordered, they changed course to attack the Independence Palace, the official presidential residence; this meant that two companies of communist guerrillas were able to retreat after their attack without counter-attack. At around 07:00, the deer on the expansive lawns of the French colonial-era palace were frightened off as Quốc and Cử — flying American-built A-1 Skyraiders single-seater ground attack planes—flew low over their target to inspect the ruling family's residence. On their second run, they attacked with bombs and napalm before strafing the presidential compound with rocket and machine-gun fire; the duo continued their runs for 30 minutes before units loyal to the president arrived and launched a counter-attack. Taking advantage of poor weather and low cloud cover, the two pilots circled the palace at altitudes of around 150 m, periodically diving out of the clouds to re-attack before darting back into them.
The airstrike caught the Saigon garrison off guard and, in the confusion, they were unable to determine whether the aircraft were acting alone or with ground forces. Loyalist tanks and armoured personnel carriers rushed to their battle stations and anti-aircraft batteries opened fire, nearly hitting the loyalist aircraft from Bien Hoa Air Base in pursuit of the two rebel planes. Two tanks and a number of jeeps armed with 50-calibre machine guns patrolled the smoke-filled streets as a precaution; the first 500 lb bomb penetrated a room in the western wing where Diệm was reading a biography of George Washington. The bomb failed to detonate, which gave Diệm enough time to seek shelter in a cellar in the eastern wing, he was joined there by his elder brother Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục, younger brother Ngô Đình Nhu, Madame Nhu—who sustained an arm fracture while running toward the cellar—and their children. Elsewhere within the palace, three servants and guards were killed, about thirty more staff were injured.
Outside the palace grounds, an American contractor died after falling from a rooftop where he had been watching the bombing. Despite the confusion, most of the city's inhabitants went about their usual business, indifferent to the chaos; the attack lasted 30 minutes and although they carried enough bombs to level the palace, the pilots did not expend all their mun