Quang Ngai Province, Ba To district         15 43' N  -  108 05'E      AT879396 or 81483834

I CTZ - South Vietnam






Camp Gia-Vuc was one of the oldest SF camps in the 1st CORPS It was an old French camp (Indochina War) reopened by USSF in February 1962 BU A-5/1, to secure a population of 1500 HRE montagnards and about 300 Vietnamese in that area. The camp is situated near the Song Re river in the Quang Ngai province, about 80 miles from Danang and was originally in the II CORPS Tactical Zone but in 1964, the I and II CTZ borders were adjusted and the camp came under control of the I CTZ. Gia -Vuc was the southernmost camp in the 1st CTZ and its mission was surveillance and interdiction on infiltration routes. The Song Re valley know as Vietcong Valley was one of the major enemy supply/infiltration routes from Laos Eastwards to the Vietnamese costal lowlands.

It is believed that Gia-Vuc made a lot of Civic Action progress and improvements in the area and encountered more than their fair share of VC. When the camp was handed back to LLDB in 1969, there were approximately 6400 Hre and Vietnamese living in the area. Gia-Vuc was also known as the "Shangrila" of Vietnam and was becoming the social, cultural and political center of the Hre Montagnards. Colonel Harold R Aaron referred to Gia-Vuc as the most successful SF camp in Vietnam.

During most of its life, the camp lacked artillery, but at some stage had recoilless rifles to ward off enemy attacks. The camp defenses were virtually probed every night and suffered regular mortar attacks. Later on,
the fighting trenches were hardened against mortar attacks  by concrete capping of trenche and bunker system. Due to tropical rain storms flooding was not uncommon.

"An interesting fact about Gia Vuc is that, after it was turned over to the ARVN Rangers, it was besieged by PAVN as part of PAVN's invasion of RVN. The Rangers fought to the last man there, some 300 KIA or MIA." This additional information is thanks to Alex Humphrey (5th SFGA, Ba To 1964-65)

Imagine a green valley, slightly long than wide. Weaving through the middle is the Song Re river, running shallow over rocks and rapids during the dry season but fierce and often impossible to ford in the rainy season.  The floor of the valley has the terrain of a golf course, rolling into terraced rice paddies at the bottoms of the mountains ringing the valley.  At one end of the valley, far in the distance, a waterfall pours off the top of a ridge, falling nearly halfway to the bottom before losing itself in the trees.  Dozens of water buffalo graze near the streams and ponds.  The fog and clouds roll and tumble and slide up and down the mountains all day long...never remaining stationary for more than an hour.  Suddenly half the entire valley is invisible in misty white; 60 minutes later only little puffs float halfway up the hills.  Over there, a long skinny finger of fog flows down a long narrow valley, finally wrapping itself around one of the hamlets and then curling itself into a ball and floating away.  A dream world.  The Hre Montagnard villages perch clean and tiny on little hills, looking like a child's story of fairy-tale houses in a fairy-tale valley.

This is Gia Vuc, about 80 miles southwest of Danang and about mid-way to Laos.  The Special Forces camp is an old camp; the minefields in front still have some French mines in them and some of the Hre tribesmen speak a little French. The Hre are one of the large subgroups of the Montagnards with an estimated 150,000 people.  Most do not have the epicanthal eye fold, and most have a straight though short nose, not the flatter nose of most Vietnamese.  Most adults (especially the older) have had their front teeth either filed down or broken off, a tribal custom.

A few French genes visible in some who have white skin and some who have red hair. Running through the middle of our compound are bits and pieces of an old French road that once linked Kontum and Quang Ngai.  One day on patrol, I was amazed to see an old highway sign, rusty and full of bullet holes, that read "Kontum 25k."

Photo of CIDG's from Gia Vuc, due to their relax look, they must be closed to the camp
(note the old French road sign)  Photo, thanks to Loyd Little, A-113, 1965

Rice is the primary crop although tea, coconuts, cinnamon, honey, hemp and areca palm are grown. Growing wild are bananas, sugar cane, mangoes and a grapefruit-like plant. A typical hamlet has 50-60 people in 12-18 huts perched on hills.
Favorite drink is a quite potent rice wine. 

Altogether about 1,000 Hre live in this one long valley.  There is only one school in the valley, and it was built by an earlier SF team.  A teacher was recruited from Saigon and is paid by SF.   Hre have been fighting since the early 1950s, some with the French, some with the Viet Minh/Viet Cong.  Our housegirl is a captured Viet Cong and recruited (we think) to our side. 

Description of Gia Vuc is thanks to Loyd Little Sr Medic (E-6) at Gia Vuc 
(A-113 Sept. 8 to Nov. 2, 1965)

Go to the Green Beret website Steve Sherman the  archivist for 
the Special Forces and Special Operations Associations  
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