Phuoc Tuy Province
Members of 7RAR disembark from a landing craft at Vung Tau for their second tour of duty in Vietnam, February 1970. [Image courtesy of Jerzy Rainer]
The port of Vung Tau lies in the south of South Vietnam on a peninsula that extends from the southern tip of Phuoc Tuy province into the South China Sea. Already a popular resort before the war, Vung Tau came to be used by Australian and American servicemen as a rest area. The influx of Americans in the early 1960s meant that much of the area’s income derived from construction projects, the presence of military bases and spending by civilian and military holiday makers.
Patrols of the United States 173 Airborne Brigade cleared the area that would be occupied by 1 Australian Logistic Support Group (1ALSG), between the staging area for the move to Nui Dat and a strip of sand dunes known as Back Beach. Although far from ideal, Vung Tau’s popularity as a resort area meant that the more favourable areas for construction had long since been developed.
The Australians who worked on establishing the base encountered many difficulties. The heat, reflecting off the sand dunes, was extreme. United States troops who had previously used the site as a staging area had left rubbish strewn about, blow flies abounded and building even small structures such as latrines proved a problem as the sand kept shifting beneath them.
Despite the difficulties, 1 ALSG established a working base and the area became home to a hospital, RAAF units, engineers, transport, ordnance and service corps units.