Phan Thiet 2005

by Bryan Lagimoniere

 

January 13, 2005

The trip with my wife to Nam was great. We just got back. I want to take a minute and give you a brief description of LZ Betty and the surrounding Phan Thiet area. Phan Thiet Village is now a city of 4,000,000 people. The Ca Ty River has three new bridges over it. There was only one when we were there. The old MACV Compound downtown is now the Phan Thiet Hotel.

LZ Betty was occupied by the Communist from 1975 to 1985. The Army unit then was transfered to Saigon and shortly after that the base was ordered dismantled. Now due to the erosion from the rains, a lot of LZ Betty's north and east side green line has shrunk. I estimate LZ Betty is about 30% smaller than when we were there. Some of the east side erosion ditches are 1/2 mile deep and an 1/8 mile or bigger wide. The erosion ditch down behind battalion headquarters actually now goes all the way up to the ramp parking area and has even cut away under it. One of the erosion ditches just off the south end of LZ Betty is now 3/4 of a mile deep and about a half mile wide.

Trees about 20 to 30 feet high run down both sides of the runway. The erosion ditch down by the battalion motor pool and the ammo dump is also a canyon. However, the red clay is still there. The erosion ditch in front of Bunker 4 and down to Tower 7 has also grown to a large scale. It has cut away at the green line on the west side and runs about the full length of the west side green line.

The cemetery, access road, and surrounding area has had many changes. But importantly, a lot stayed the same.
When I first got to Phan Thiet I was told I could go to the base, but not on it. The government is thinking of developing that area. So on my first attempt at gaining access was not a success. However, I took a gamble on my second day with a new driver and actually got onto the base. I was lucky because if you get caught in Nam in a place you are not supposed to be, they will throw you in jail.

I took tons of pictures and video at LZ Betty, around the city and in the surrounding areas. I will have some of the pictures put on a floppy and e-mail you some tomorrow. (Note from Rolando Salazar: I will post them on the web site.)

Yes, Whiskey Mountain does have a cell tower on it. And there were no rubber tree plantations there like I was told earlier.

 

ęBryan Lagimoniere, 2005-2009, All rights reserved.