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For the civil use of the facility during after 1975, see Đông Tác Airportmarker
Tuy Hoa Air Base was built in 1966, and was one of several South Vietnamese Air Force air bases built and used by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Overview

Phu Cat was one of several air bases in the former South Vietnam built by United States Air Force RED HORSE civil engineering squadrons in 1966. An advance construction party of the 820th Civil Engineering Squadron (Heavy repair) arrived in June. Within six months, with the completion of interim airfield facilities, the base was in operation. This unit completed nearly 50 percent of all construction completed at Tuy Hoa, including: 170 aircraft protective revetments, of wooden buildings, and 175,000 square yards of AM-2 matting. In addition, the 820th CES operated a rock crusher 9.5 miles from the base and hauled aggregate through enemy-held territory to the base.

Tuy Hoa was originally envisioned as a Strategic Air Command B-52 base. However, security concerns of basing SAC's bombers directly in South Vietnam resulted in the assignment of B-52s to U-Tapao Air Basemarker in neighboring Thailandmarker. Tuy Hoa was given a tactical air support mission instead.

The APO for Tuy Hoa Air Base was APO San Francisco 96316

31st Tactical Fighter Wing

The 31st Tactical Fighter Wing was deployed from Homestead Air Force Basemarker Floridamarker to Tuy Hoa in late 1966. Its attached squadrons were:

  • 308 Tactical Fighter 15 Nov 1966 - 8 Sep 1970 (F-100D/F Tail Code: SD) Was assigned to Bien Hoa and after flying missions from Bien Hoa on 15 November recovered at Tuy Hoa.
  • 308 Tactical Fighter 6 Dec 1966 - 8 Sep 1970 (F-100D/F Tail Code: SM)
  • 309 Tactical Fighter 6 Dec 1966 - 8 Sep 1970 (F-100D/F Tail Code: SS)


The first squadron of F-100s (the 308th) actually touched down on 15 November 1966, forty-five days ahead of schedule. Within a month, it was joined by two others (the 306th and 309th); and on 6 December the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing became combat ready at Tuy Hoa.

The mission of the 31st TFW was twofold.
  1. Prevent the movement of hostile troops and supplies into the theater of operations or within the theater.
  2. Assist ground forces in the battle area.


During its time at Tuy Hoa, the 31st conducted combat interdiction strikes, conducted visual and photo reconnaissance, rescue combat air patrols, and suppressed enemy antiaircraft artillery. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, aircraft from the 31st conducted air operations against enemy forces and during the Siege of Khe Sanhmarker, Feb–Apr 1968. Other missions flown from Tuy Hoa consisted of close air support missions during the extraction of friendly troops from Kham Duc on 12 May 1968.

In June 1967, federalized Air National Guard squadrons were deployed from the United States to supplement the 31st TFW. These were:

  • 136 Tactical Fighter 14 Jun 1968 - 25 May 1969 (New York ANG) (F-100C Tail Code: SG)
  • 188 Tactical Fighter 7 Jun 1968 - 18 May 1969 (New Mexico ANG) (F-100C/F Tail Code: SK)


In turn, when the National Guard units returned to the United States after their one-year active duty was ended, F-100 squadrons from the 37th TFW at Phu Cat Air Basemarker, which was converting to F-4Ds were deployed as replacement units. These were:

  • 355 Tactical Fighter 15 May 1969 - 30 Sep 1970 (F-100D/F Tail Code: SP)
  • 416 Tactical Fighter 28 May 1969 - 5 Sep 1970 (F-100D/F Tail Code: SE)


Having five F-100 squadrons, the 31st TFW was the most important F-100 wing in South Vietnam.

In May 1968, the 31st gained a forward air control mission as well as continued other combat operations.

The 31st TFW was deactivated in Southeat Asia on 15 October 1970 as part of the general US withdrawal from South Vietnam. On 16 October it was reactivated without personnel or equipment at Homestead Air Force Basemarker, Floridamarker. With the American withdrawal from Tuy Hoa, the 308th TFS was deactivated in place on 5 October 1970.

The 306th and 309th TFS were deactivated, then reassigned without personnel or equipment on 8 September 1970 and initially assigned to the 4403d TFW at England AFBmarker Louisianamarker. The 306th and 309th TFS were returned to the 31st TFW at Homestead AFB, Florida on 30 October 1970.

The 355th TFS was deactivated in place and reassigned to 354th TFW at Myrtle Beach on 1 November 1970, and the 416th TFS was deactivated in place and reassigned to 4403d TFW at England AFBmarker on 28 September 1970.

USAF Aircraft Based At Tuy Hoa Air Base

Image:309tfs-tuyhoa1.jpg|North American F-100D-60-NA Super Sabres Serials 56-2927 (Front) and 56-2952 of the 309th TFS on the ramp at Tuy Hoa, April 1970.Image:F-100d-308TFS-tuyhoa.jpg|North American F-100D-25-NA Super Sabre Serial 55-3642 of the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron.Image:306tfs-tuyhoa1.jpg|North American F-100D-90-NA Super Sabre Serial 56-3311 of the 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron.Image:Nmang-tuyhoa-1968.jpg|North American F-100C-25-NA Super Sabres on the flightline from the Federalized 188th Tactical Fighter Squadron, New Mexico Air National Guard, 1968. Serial 54-2045 is in foreground.


USAF Emblem Gallery

Image:31sttfw.gif|31st Tactical Fighter Wing
1966-1970
Image:Pacific Air Forces.png|USAF Pacific Air Forces
1966-1970
Image:7th Air Force.png|USAF 7th Air Force
1966-1970


SVNAF Use of Tuy Hoa Air Base

After the American withdrawal, Tuy Hoa was used for flyable storage of South Vietnamese Air Force propeller-driven aircraft (A-1, T-28) and helicopters. After the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, United States Congressional cuts in military aid to South Vietnam forced the SVNAF to abandon use of the base with no permanent personnel or active aircraft assigned. By 1975, the base showed lack of signs of maintenance and being abandoned, with little or no activities taking place on the facility.

Capture Of Tuy Hoa Air Base

In early 1975 North Vietnam realized the time was right to achieve its goal of re-uniting Vietnam under communist rule, launched a series of small ground attacks to test U.S. reaction.

On 8 January the North Vietnamese Politburo ordered a major People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) offensive to "liberate" South Vietnam by NVA cross-border invasion. The NVA general staff plan for the invasion of South Vietnam called for 20 divisions, because, by 1975, the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army was the fifth largest in the world. It anticipated a two year struggle for victory.

By 14 March, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu decided to abandon the Central Highlands region and two northern provinces of South Vietnam and ordered a general withdrawal of ARVN forces from those areas. Instead of an orderly withdrawal, it turned into a general retreat, with masses of military and civilians fleeing, clogging roads and creating chaos.

The first convoys left Pleiku on 16 March and continued to depart unhindered for three days. But no provisions had been made for the civilian populace, and the military convoys were pursued by a panic-stricken civilian mob in vehicles and on foot. Surprised at first, the PAVN reacted quickly and by 18 March portions of the evacuation route were under artillery fire. Worse, necessary bridging material was delayed. and a mass of vehicles and humanity backed up at each river crossing in turn.

Panic mounted and observers overhead watched in horror as survivors plodded south suffering terrible heat and thirst. Communist forces finally cut the road just short of Tuy Hoa on 22 March. Desperate attacks by ARVN Rangers eventually reopened the way, and, during the evening of 27 March, the first vehicles began to roll into Tuy Hoa.

Of those who started the trek, only a minority completed it. They included some 60,000 civilian refugees, perhaps a third of the total who started, and some 20,000 support troops, only a quarter of those who departed Pleiku. Of the elite Rangers who covered the withdrawal, only 900 out of 7,000 survived. During the ordeal, graphic footage of the "Convoy of Tears," as it was called, was screened on South Vietnamese television, and panic spread to the entire nation.

Meanwhile, as the ARVN scrambled to salvage something from defeat the situation in northern South Vietnam fell apart. By 19 March, Quang Tri Province had fallen to the communists. Successive attempts to evacuate the ARVN forces of the strategic reserve southward were inadequate and poorly planned and served only to amplify the chaos. Hue fell on 25 March and Da Nangmarker on 30 March. The result was the loss not only of northern South Vietnam, but also of the elite units of the strategic reserve, the 1st Division and the Marine and Airborne Divisions.

On 1 April, South Vietnamese forces abandoned Tuy Hoa.

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