Unrecorded 1967 plan of the III Marine Amphibious Force headquarters at Da Nang, annotated by an American serviceman

E.J. Mac [?] / Drafting Section, IIIMAF HQS JANUARY 1967. Da Nang: III Marine Amphibious Force, 1967.
Blueprint plan, 21”h x 28 ¼”w at sheet edge, with contemporary annotations in ink and red pencil. Some yellowing along folds, else excellent.

An unrecorded 1967 plan of III Marine Amphibious Force Headquarters at Da Nang, Vietnam with manuscript notes by an American serviceman who helped draw it.

The III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) came into being on May 7, 1965 and consisted of the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Division, and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The III MAF operated in northern South Vietnam in the I (Vietnamese) Corps Tactical Zone and was in Vietnam from May 1965 until April 1971, when it redeployed to Camp Courtney, Okinawa. While in Da Nang its headquarters lay along the east bank of the Han River, just across from the city. An aerial image of the Camp may be viewed here.

Rendered in blueprint, the plan depicts an area of 150 yards by 300 yards (with the dimensions noted in manuscript) and surrounded by barbed wire and a fence or wall, with only two gates evident along the perimeter. Buildings are shown in footprint and identified using abbreviations; “BOQ”, for example, indicates “Bachelor Officer’s Quarters” and two buildings are labeled as such, with one part of Senior “BOQ” #1 also labeled as being set aside for VIPs. SNCO BKS, or Senior Non-Commissioned Officer’s Bunks, occupy three buildings just below the BOQ. Seven buildings house “EM BKS” or “Enlisted Men’s Bunks”, and the EM Mess and EM Club are also labeled. Other buildings include the Officer’s Club, the Communications Center (which is surrounded by its own fence), the PX, or post exchange, barber, tailor, sick bay, supply, and the drafting section, where this map was made.

The title block at lower right reads “IIIMAF HQS / JANUARY 1967 E.J. MAC / DRAFTING SECTION”. A review of III MAF service records should indicate whether E. J. Mac is the name of the draftsman, though it may also be a military abbreviation with which I am unfamiliar.

The notations
The plan bears manuscript additions in both black ink and red pencil, mostly reflecting one serviceman’s daily life in Da Nang. The red pencil traces his presumably well-worn paths around the base, including the enlisted men’s mess, the drafting section office, the PX and the chapel and chaplain’s office. A few comments in black ink provide brief commentary on his life on base: At Enlisted Men’s Bunk #6 he notes that “I sleep here Topside”. Another, behind the enlisted men’s mess next to a water tower, reads “Movies are Shown Back Here”, and a third states that “I only leave [Headquarters] every now and then”. Two other notes highlight areas of the base scheduled for expansion, hinting at the ongoing buildup of American troops in Vietnam during 1967 and into 1968. The anonymous annotater also also states that “I helped draw this map”, suggesting that he worked in the Drafting Section, shown in the upper-left quadrant of the plan.

The serviceman’s use of the present tense suggest that this map was likely mailed to the United States from Da Nang, so that he could share his experience with family or friends back home.

In all, a rare and unusual cartographic relic of the Vietnam War.

Not in OCLC.