An unrecorded ca. 1967 III Marine Amphibious Force Drafting Section whiteprint map of Da Nang, Vietnam and its vicinity featuring manuscript notations referencing attacks on American bases before and during the Tet Offensive.
U.S. Military installations in and around Da Nang
The map depicts the region from Lienchou Bay to the South China Sea and from the Tien-Sha Peninsula to the Marble Mountain Air Facility operated by the Marine Corps through much of the Vietnam War, from August 1965 until May 1971.
The U.S. Marines landed at Da Nang on March 8, 1965, and would not leave until April 1971. Many of the military installations that would house American servicemen are illustrated. III Marine Amphibious Force Headquarters (III MAF), from which all operations in northern South Vietnam were commanded, is shown across the Han River from Da Nang itself. In November 1965, Marines moved into Camp Tien-Sha, an old French Army camp situated on the Tien-Sha Peninsula and illustrated near the top of the map, and expanded the base to house 1,700 men, along with the headquarters of the regional Naval Support Activity (NSA) detachment. The NSA boat repair facility appears next to Camp Tien-Sha and was used to maintain the vessels used to load and unload supplies. Camp Fay, situated below Camp Tien-Sha, was named after the first navy frogman killed in Vietnam, Commander Robert James Fay, and housed the US Naval Advisory Detachment (NAD).
South of Da Nang, the first military installation referenced is “Museum Ramp”, from November 1965 an important off-loading point for Landing Craft Utilitys (LCU) and Landing Craft Transports (LST). The next immediately apparent installation is Da Nang Air Base, which housed several units, including a company of military police. Still further south, along the coast, are an officer’s rest and relaxation center, the China Beach recreation area, the 5th Communications Battalion headquarters, and a Special Forces camp. Marble Mountain Air Facility is included along the bottom border. The Naval Support Activity (NSA) main operating base was situated just inland of all these installations. The NSA hospital operated here and was known at the time as the best trauma hospital in the world. Camp Haskins, labeled here as Camp Hasking, appears northwest of Da Nang on the shores of the Bay of Da Nang. This base, also known as Red Beach Base Area, was a complex of former U.S. Marines, Navy, and Army, and Army of the Republic of Vietnam logistics and support bases. Today it is still in use by the People’s Army of Vietnam.
Manuscript notations and the Tet Offensive
Two sets of manuscript notations are present, each with distinct handwriting. One set, in black ink, highlights areas attacked by the North Vietnamese on January 3, 1968, as well as an attack on the air base in July 1967. Other comments include “I work and live in this area”, pointing out the III Marine Amphibious Force headquarters. The others, situated in the lower right corner, state that whoever wrote the pen notations drew the map, and he reassures the recipient of the map that “As you can see, they hit all around us, I’m in a safe place”. The syntax of these comments, particularly the present tense, suggest this map was mailed home from Vietnam.
The precise identity of the soldier who annotated the map is unknown, but he was an enlisted man assigned to the Drafting Section at III MAF Headquarters, living and working on site. We are currently also offering a blueprint plan of III MAF Headquarters, dated January 1967 and annotated in the same hand, and providing details of the soldier’s everyday life. That map is explicitly credited to the Drafting Section and bears an inked note “I helped draw this map”.
Four pencil manuscript notations, written by a different hand, are appended to installations around Da Nang and read simply “Jan 30” or just “30”. These are the MAG 16 base along the coast, the air base, Camp Tien-Sha, and Camp Hasking/Haskins. No other information is given, making these four notations appear rather mundane, though they are anything but. January 30, 1968 marked the beginning of the Tet Offensive. This combined attack, executed jointly by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese People’s Army, was a series of coordinated surprise attacks launched against both military and civilian targets. All told, the North Vietnamese struck more than 100 towns and cities, including Saigon and 36 of 44 provincial capitals. American forces were completely unprepared for the coordinated assault, and by the second week of February, when the offensive was over, had suffered over 1,500 killed and more than 7,500 wounded.
Not in OCLC.