Núi Đất – A “Cosmopolitan” Community
ED: Ernie submitted a photo with this article, unfortunately the format would not allow me to copy it.
By Ernie Chamberlain
Several writers have implied that Núi Dat was an Australians-only enclave – however, many other nationalities were serving in the base. The New Zealand gunners (161st Field Battery) first served with 1 RAR in Biên Hòa in 1965, and later moved to join 1 ATF at Núi Dat in mid-1966. In May 1967, NZ Victor Company – from 1RNZIR in Malaysia, joined 6RAR in Ph??c Tuy – with NZ Whiskey Company joining 2RAR in March 1968. Resident US artillery elements supported 1 ATF – eg 105mm and 155mm guns of 2nd Bn/35th Arty Regiment in Núi Dat, and 175mm and 8-inch SP guns of the 1/83rd Arty Regiment in the Heavyweight base about a kilometre south of the 1 ATF base. (US SGT Frank Beltier of 2nd Bn/35th Arty – without permission, joined A/6RAR enroute to Long Tân late on 18 August 1966). Other “resident” US elements at Núi Dat included SIGINT detachments (eg 175th Radio Reconnaissance Regiment) supporting 547 Sig Tp – with direction finding (DF) equipment, and occasionally US DF light aircraft were based at the Núi Dat strip Two US SIGINTers were killed in the Province by VC mines – one near Hòa Long in February 1969, and another near Long Dien on Route 44.
US Liaison Officers (LOs) were routinely attached to 1 ATF – from the US Air Force, from HQ II Field Force Vietnam (II FFV) at Long Bình, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 9th US Infantry Division, 25th US Infantry Division, 199th US Light Infantry Brigade, 3rd Brigade/1st US Cavalry Division etc. 1 ATF also exchanged LOs with the Royal Thai Army Volunteer Force (RTAVF) based at Bearcat in south-central Biên Hòa Province. LOs were also sometimes deployed from the 18th (nee 10th) ARVN Division to HQ 1 ATF when elements of that ARVN formation were operating in Phuoc Tuy.
Former NVA/VC soldiers were also stationed in Núi Dat – as “Bushman Scouts” (ie NVA/VC who had rallied to the Government side – termed “Kit Carson Scouts” by the US), serving with Australian units. Bushman Scouts served principally with the RAR battalions and the Reinforcement Unit, but also with 1 Field Squadron RAE and 1 PSYOPS unit (3). NVA/VC ralliers were also employed in Armed Propaganda Teams of the PSYOPS unit for direct contact with the local “VC families”.
“Regular” ARVN personnel also served at Núi Dat – principally members of the 10th Military Intelligence Detachment (10th MID) who were “integrated” into Det 1 Div Int Unit and facilitated the Div Int’s “Acorn raids” against the Viet Cong underground/infrastructure across the Province. ARVN NCOs – often as interpreters, also served with the Civil Affairs Unit and the PSYOPS Unit (about five). NVA/VC prisoners were kept for a short period at the RAACMP “cage” at Núi Dat before processing and movement to formal camps.
In February 1971, AATTV founded the Jungle Warfare Training Centre (JWTC) in the former 8RAR “lines” at Núi Dat – for training ARVN junior officers and NCOs. About 1,500 Vietnamese were trained over two years before the Centre relocated to the ARVN National Training Centre at Van Kiep on Bà Ria Town’s eastern outskirts.
Núi Dat was not quite the “United Nations” – but quite a multi-cultural environment at times.