On a bright and sunny Sunday morning a friend and I decided to head out and take a little drive through the countryside of Quang Nam province. However, this wasn’t exactly a drive without purpose.
Jack is an avid amateur military history buff. So he wanted to head out to see if we could track down the locations of a few of the old American Airbases and Landing Zones in the Quang Nam area.
Starting a little after 8am we rode south over the Cua Dai bridge and through small fishing and farming villages for about an hour or two. We weren’t in a rush.
After getting turned around a couple of times and taking a well deserved coffee break we popped off the main road and onto what was obviously an unused section.
Turns out, this ratty potholed kilometer long road was the old An Hoa airstrip.
After a few flights with the drone to get a nice perspective of the area and the strip itself, it was time to head off to where the base was located.
There isn’t much left as you can see from the photos. Mainly some concrete walls that are slowly being eaten by the jungle and the odd bullet lying in the ground to be discovered.
The oddest (or perhaps not) thing was that none of the land had been repurposed. It is very common in Vietnam to use whatever space has been left alone for pretty much anything. Find an empty lot? Build a home on it.
Field not used for a while. Till it up and start planting or let cattle graze on it.
At An Hoa there was none of that. The area was left to itself. Aside from the few groups of cattle grazing around the airstrip and the local people having repurposed that strip as a road it was eerily quiet.
After an hour or so exploring the base area we drove through the area and up into the mountains. We were headed to Landing Zone Ross.
Along the way though, a little more weirdness awaited.
As we drove up into the mountains we searched for a lunch spot. Stumbling upon what appeared to be a deserted resort pool that looked like it was dropped into that location as a relaxation spot for the party elite. We guessed that is what it was. But in the climate of Vietnam it is always hard to tell how old something really is. Design from any time between 1980 to 2005 can be hard to judge. But this felt like it was from the earlier period. Build to look like a mediterranean cliff side pool and overlooking the valley below. It was an odd structure.
I’ll leave it to the photos to explain far better than I can.
After a quick lunch beside a mountain stream and a poke around the abandoned pool we hopped back on the bikes to go in search of the landing zones.
While we were unable to locate Landing Zone Leslie, we did come across Landing Zone Ross.
LZ Ross was the staging point and drop off for American soldiers by helicopter for scouting missions in the area. As it was a fairly important landing zone, and was attacked repeatedly throughout its history.
Today though, it is a monument to the war from the Vietnamese perspective. Complete with a grand monument of a strong soldier and woman with a child, clothing flying in the wind, overlooking the valley towards the mountains where the US helicopters would take off from.
The surrounding hillside is littered with a couple of monuments depicting the wartime struggle, some nice pathways, playing children and the odd uninterested cow.
After some time spent exploring the hillside and happening upon an American Veteran of the war who happens to live in Hoi An and was stationed in the area during the war. We decided it was time to head back.
Overall a successful trip of exploration and history all bundled into one pleasant days worth of driving around Quang Nam Province.
Vietnam, you never cease to be pleasantly surprising.