Demilitarized zone (DMZ)


According to the Geneva Agreement signed in 1954 between French and Ho Chi Minh`s government, the Ben Hai River at 17th North parallel (80km north of Hue) marked the political division of Vietnam, separating the then Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV, North Vietnam) from the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, South Vietnam). The agreement stated that the division of Vietnam into two zones was merely temporary until the nationwide general election expected to be held after two years. However, said election could not be held and The 17th parallel (17 degrees latitude) has served as a indisposed boundary for nearly 20 years of war (1954-1973). Hien Luong Bridge joins the two banks of the Ben Hai River was also divided into two parts, each serving as border gate. On either side of the river was a five kilometre wide area known as the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which, notwithstanding its name, witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the American War:  Khe Sanh, Quang Tri citadel.... 

Today the province receives some 10,000 visitors each year, most of them foreigners keen to visit this former battleground.

Khe Sanh

Khe Sanh is located in Hướng Hoá District, Quảng Trị Province, Vietnam, located 63 km west of Đông Hà.
Khe Sanh Combat Base was a United States Marine Corps outpost in South Vietnam (MGRS 48QXD850418) used during the Vietnam War. The airstrip was built in September 1962. Fighting began there in late April of 1967 known as 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, and the battle ended as a failure for the North Vietnamese Army. The defense of Khe Sanh became one of the largest sieges of the war and commanded heavy international attention in the media one of several climactic phases of the Tet Offensive. On July 5, 1968, Khe Sanh was abandoned, the U.S. Army citing the vulnerability of the base to enemy artillery. However, the closure permitted the 3rd Marine Division to construct mobile firebase operations along the northern border area.

In 1971, Khe Sanh was reactivated by the US Army (Operation Dewey Canyon II) to support Operation Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese incursion into Laos. It was abandoned again sometime in 1972. In March 1973, American officials in Saigon reported that North Vietnamese troops had rebuilt the old airstrip at Khe Sanh and were using it for courier flights into the south. As of 2009, Khe Sanh Combat Base is a museum where relics of the war are exhibited. Most of the former base is now overgrown by wilderness or coffee and banana plants.

Khe Sanh Combat Base can today be visited as part of the tours through the Demilitarized Zone starting daily in Huế. In a small museum on the area of the former combat base historical pictures and weapons are shown. Additionally, abandoned helicopters and restored bunkers are part of the area. A remaining rest of the airstrip is also visible.

Camp Carol

Camp Carroll was a United States Marine Corps artillery base during the Vietnam War. It was located 8 km southwest of the town of Cam Lo, Quang Tri province.

The camp was commissioned on November 10, 1966 and became home for the 3rd Marine Regiment. It was one of nine artillery bases constructed along the DMZ and had 80 artillery pieces including M107 175mm guns from the United States Army. From a tactical perspective, therefore, the 175mm self-propelled gun was the most important weapon at Camp Carroll. The 175mm guns put Camp Carroll on the map, particularly the tactical maps of the North Vietnamese forward observers. The most powerful American field artillery tube, the 175mm could fire a 150-pound projectile 32,690 meters and effectively return fire on any enemy gun that could hit it.

Camp Carroll diminished in significance after the 1968 Tet Offensive. The 3rd Marine Division began relying on highly mobile postures rather than remaining in their fixed positions as sitting targets. The Marine Corps began pulling out of Vietnam in 1969 as part of President Richard Nixon's Vietnamization Policy.

Pock pile

The Rockpile is known in Vietnamese as Thon Khe Tri, is a karst rock outcropping near the former DMZ of South Vietnam. It rises to an elevation of 240 m (790 ft) MSL, about 210 m (690 ft) above the surrounding terrain. Its relatively inaccessible location, reached only by helicopter, made it an important United States Army and Marine Corps observation post and artillery base from 1966 to 1968.

Hien Luong Bridge

The historic Hiền Lương Bridge over the Bến Hải River served as a border between North and South Việt Nam from 1954 to 1975 under the Geneva Agreement on Vietnam signed in 1954. The Bridge is now an national historical vestige. It has been reconstructed in period style along with a gateway, flagpole, Negotiation House and Demarcation Police Station on the northern bank and a watchtower on the southern bank.

Vinh Moc Tunnel

Vinh Moc (Vịnh Mốc) is a tunnel complex in Quang Tri, Vietnam. During the Vietnam War it was strategically located on the border of North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The tunnels were built to shelter people from the intense bombing of Son Trung and Son Ha communes in Vinh Linh county of Quang Tri Province in the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone.

Vinh Linh district in Quang Tri has as many as more than 60 tunnels such as Tan My, Mu Giai, Tan Ly tunnels, among which Vinh Moc is the most solid and firm village tunnel, with 3 floors and round staircase, still remaining as in its past days.

Vinh Moc tunnel was constructed in several stages, beginning in 1966 and coming into use until 1971. The complex grew to consist of wells, kitchens, rooms for each family and clinics. Around 60 families lived in the tunnels; as many as 17 children were born inside the tunnels as well. Finally, the tunnels were a success and no villagers lost their lives thanks to them. The only direct hit was from a bomb that failed to explode, the resulting hole was utilized as a ventilation shaft.

Today, the tunnels are a tourist attraction. In comparision to the Cu Chi tunnels, walking through the Vinh-Moc-tunnels is a lot more comfortable, because they are situated in a less humid climate zone and the height of the tunnels allows even western tourists to stand upright.