498th Dust Off

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Lane Army Heliport (Lane AHP) was located about ten miles inland from the coastal city of Qui Nhon - it was west of QL1 and north of Highway LTL68 (a secondary road that ran southwest from QL1).


The Lane AHP compound was shaped like an giant arrowhead pointing southward, and was maybe a half-mile across at its widest point. Located on the south side of the compound were the 498th Medical Company (Dust Off) and the 129th Gunships, and on the north side there was the 196th Aviation Company (a Chinook outfit).

The compound’s concertina-wired perimeter encircled a small hill, atop which sat our air traffic control tower. Our company buildings were terraced up the side of this small hill—such that you were either walking downhill or uphill when going to and from work. We were surrounded on three sides by steamy farmland, and further out to the east lay the South China Sea. Close in, to the west, sat the foreboding, perilous Phu Cat Mountains.

Lane AHP didn’t have the cushy amenities of say, duty in Saigon--with its indoor theaters, pizza joints, ice cream parlors, gin-joints, etc.--but life at Lane was far better, and safer, than “humping the boonies.”

We had hot meals three times a day, flush toilets, (cold) showers, clean uniforms, and dry bunks. We enlisted men had a small EM club (beer & sodas, no food), a pool table, and an air-conditioned TV room (we called the “Cool Room”). On the other side of the hill we had a movie theater—which consisted of a few sheets of whitewashed plywood and a projector. Strictly BYOC; Bring Your Own Chair. (It was also a good idea to bring your gasmask, in case some wise guy popped a teargas grenade in the back row.) We had regular mail deliveries, a nicely stocked PX, and we could catch a ride into Qui Nhon anytime we liked, not that there was much to see or do there. And, occasionally, we'd catch a ride over to the secluded beach at the Leper Colony, just south of Qui Nhon, for a day of R&R. (More on the Leper Colony later.)

So, compared to what the Grunts--and I use that term with the utmost respect and admiration--were putting up with, we had it made at Lane.


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