udon thani afb thailand
The Wikipedia entry for the Udon Thani International Airport mentions that the airport served as a front-line base of the United States Air Force and was the Asian Headquarters for Air America. However, much further detail is available in Wikipedia‘s Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base.
Since that information is easily accessed by anyone interested in this history, I am not going to be tedious and repeat batches of it here.
There is considerable interest in the attacks upon the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base by probable North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sappers, and that second Wikipedia article does describe one such 1972 attack, but only mentions an earlier 1968 assault. Reference is given to a RAND Corporation report titled “Snakes in the Eagles Nest.”
It happens that this RAND report is presently available online in .pdf format at Rand.org here — I hope the link does not change anytime soon.
The first half of the document details events that occurred during World War II, so a considerable jump has to be made in the report to find the Vietnam War record. And if it is that first 1968 attack on the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base that is what interests you, then it begins on page 81 of the document — which is actually on the .pdf’s page 109 in my reader.
The report earlier said that Thai military security did not prove as effective as the Americans wanted for their air bases in Thailand, so an agreement between Thailand and the U.S. in 1966 “created a Thai contract guard force” that was called the Thai Security Guard Regiment. Each unit of these special Guards was placed under the control of the individual USAF base commander, and this proved quite a satisfactory relationship.
An overall appreciation of the USAF bases in Thailand can be gained by viewing a map found in Wikipedia‘s article United States Air Force in Thailand:
Wikipedia has another rather interesting article about the post Vietnamese War era (1979-1989) titled Vietnamese border raids in Thailand.
But returning to the Vietnam War era, there is an excellent documentary titled Thailand’s Role in the Vietnam War:
Thailand’s Role in the Vietnam War
Uploaded by PublicResourceOrg on 30 Jun 2011
National Archives – Thailand’s Role in the Vietnam War – National Security Council. Central Intelligence Agency. (09/18/1947 – 12/04/1981). – This film covers communist infiltration and foreign aid in Thailand. – DVD Copied by IASL Scanner Katie Filbert. – 1967 – ARC 653174 / LI 263.2402
That video is archived here.
I believe that aerial patrols of the Isaan Region were done by Thai forces operating U.S. helicopters during the Vietnam War, and Thai troops often skirmished with Communist forces. My Thai wife — who is from a village very near Udon Thani City — was quite surprised when I told her that I had read that over 37,000 Thai soldiers had volunteered to fight in Vietnam during that War. I had read that in a description of a book by Richard A. Ruth titled In Buddha’s Company: Thai Soldiers in the Vietnam War:
In Buddha’s Company explores a previously neglected aspect of the Vietnam War: the experiences of the Thai troops who served there and the attitudes and beliefs that motivated them to volunteer. Thailand sent nearly 40,000 volunteer soldiers to South Vietnam to serve alongside the Free World Forces in the conflict, but unlike the other foreign participants, the Thais came armed with historical and cultural knowledge of the region. Blending the methodologies of cultural and military history, Richard Ruth examines the individual experiences of Thai volunteers in their wartime encounters with American allies, South Vietnamese civilians, and Viet Cong enemies. Ruth shows how the Thais were transformed by living amongst the modern goods and war machinery of the Americans and by traversing the jungles and plantations haunted by indigenous spirits. At the same time, Ruth argues, Thailand’s ruling institutions used the image of volunteers to advance their respective agendas, especially those related to anticommunist authoritarianism.
No doubt, the book is probably listed at the other international Amazon websites, too.
It is impossible to make a comprehensive blog post about the Udon Thani Air Force Base, for its history alone is much too complex to detail.
I find it almost fascinating.
I’m going to close this post with a few Udon Thani references that may be of some interest:
This air force base is no longer used by the US but still sees use by the Thai air force and Singaporean air force for training purposes. Today Udon Thani is growing again with a number of new hotels and shopping centres all …
Publish Date: 02/10/2010 6:49
Udon Thani is a rural city located in the north east of Thailand in a region known as Issan. The city … The city gained prominence after the US built the Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base there during the Vietnam war. Together …
Publish Date: 11/27/2012 3:42
It is common knowledge that Udon Thani grew considerably in size during the Vietnam war, playing home to a major joint forces Air Force base, an important front lines facility of the US Air Force from 1964 to 1976. However, the Air Force base …
Publish Date: 07/14/2012 15:33
Udon Thani is a bustling city in northern part of Thailand, in the region Issan. Udonwas … During the Vietnam War, Udon Thani housed a US airbase, and a Voice of America station has been operating in the city ever since.
Publish Date: 08/15/2011 0:00
Airmen from the 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan AB, Republic of Korea, walk to their aircraft at Udon Thani Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 4, 2010, before conducting the first of several planned missions as part of …
Publish Date: 03/05/2010 14:30
An U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, departs Udon Thani Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, for a low-level airdrop March 1 as part of Cope Tiger 2010.
Publish Date: 02/24/2010 9:30
I recently spent a few days in the city of Udon Thani, something I do on each of my holidays to Thailand. I look on Udon Thani as my barometer of how well tourism in Thailand is faring. In Bangkok the long tail boats on the …
Publish Date: 11/14/2009 8:55
Middle 2008 i was with Moun in her hometown near Nong Han in Thailands Udon Thani province. We was starting on Koh Chang and going first to Korat to get the bus to Udon Thani in north east Thailand. The life here in this small farmer …
Publish Date: 01/28/2009 2:22
udon thani afb thailand
Viet Nam Conflict – Udorn RTAFB Part IV
Uploaded by samwlassiter on 3 Nov 2009
Part IV of five videos reflecting segments of my tour at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand, during the Vietnam conflict, Aug 72 – Aug ’73. Highlights of this segment include the Bob Hope visit in Dec of ’72, and downtown Udorn.
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