Khe Sanh Combat Base
History and museums
Khe Sanh Combat Base was a United States Marine Corps outpost south of the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) used during the Vietnam War.
Fighting began there in late April 1967 with the hill fights, which later expanded into the 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh. U.S. commanders hoped that the North Vietnamese Army would attempt to repeat their famous victory at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which would permit the U.S. to wield enormous air power. B-52s alone dropped more than 75,000 tons of bombs on the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 304th and 325th Divisions encroaching the combat base in trenches.
On April 1, 1968, the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division launched Operation Pegasus to break the siege of the base. All three brigades from the 1st Cavalry participated in this vast airmobile operation, along with a Marine armor thrust.
The defense of Khe Sanh commanded international attention and was considered the climactic phase of the Tet Offensive. On July 5, 1968, the combat base was abandoned, the U.S. Army citing the vulnerability of the base to dug-in enemy artillery positions in neutral Laos and the arrival of significant airmobile forces in I Corps (1st Cavalry and 101st Airborne Divisions). However, the closure permitted the 3rd Marine Division to conduct mobile operations along the DMZ.
In 1971, Khe Sanh was reactivated by the U.S. Army (Operation Dewey Canyon II) to support Operation Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese incursion into Laos. It was abandoned again in early April 1971.
On 27 January 1972 a U.S. Air Force AC-130A gunship was shot down by a PAVN SA-2 missile over the base. In March 1973, American intelligence reported that the PAVN had rebuilt the airstrip at Khe Sanh and were using it for courier flights into the South.
Khe Sanh Combat Base can be visited daily as part of tours starting in Huế. Most of the base is now overgrown by wilderness or coffee and banana plants. In a small museum on base historical pictures and weapons are shown. Additionally, abandoned helicopters, restored bunkers, and portions of the airstrip are visible.
The computer game ARMA 2 features a fictional Wasp class LHD named Khe Sanh which serves as platform for the USMC's attack on the island of Utes and Chernarus. The first person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops features a level (titled SOG) where the player (fictional CIA operative Alex Mason) fights to defend Khe Sanh from the North Vietnamese Army.
The Electronic Arts/DICE game, Battlefield Vietnam (2004) features a level where the Khe Sanh base is the main base for US troops. The level incorporates other historical sites like Khe Sanh Village, Lang Vei, the junction of National Route 9 and Ho Chi Minh Highway, and the bridge over the Rao Quan River, though all of the interceding distances are compressed to work within the game's playable area.