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April 6, 2014

Looking for Camp Evans

Local vets share wartime memories searching for site of famous Vietnam base

In 1968, the U.S. Army’s legendary 1st Cavalry Division’s main base of operations in South Vietnam was Camp Evans.

It was located a few miles north of Hue City just west of Highway 1, according to old maps, but as we search for the site now, it proves difficult to locate. Not much remains of what was there in 1968, and the only help comes from people in shops along Highway 1.

Along with U.S. Army veterans Neil Tallon, Pete Conroy and Corky Reinhart, I traveled this time with Le Ly Hayslip, founder of a major Vietnam charity called East Meets West Foundation, and Mark Conroy, who was the the foundation’s in-country director for 20 years.

The massive development of Vietnam over the last few years makes it difficult to locate places that looked quite different nearly 50 years ago. The roads have changed here, along with most of the buildings and all the vegetation.

VISIT WITH OLIVER STONE

Pete Conroy was stationed at Camp Evans in 1968, but nothing looks familiar to him.

The famous movie director Oliver Stone was stationed at Camp Evans around the same time as Pete.

Oliver’s movie “Heaven and Earth” was based on Hayslip’s book “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places.”

“Le Ly and myself, along with Oliver and his son Sean were up here in Hue at least 15 years ago,” Mark Conroy told us. “We spent a day showing them around the old Hue Citadel that was nearly destroyed during the siege of 1968 and talked of trying to find the remnants of that 1st Cavalry Base Camp then. We never got around to it but hopefully will this trip.”

GUIDANCE

The railroad tracks and rivers a few miles above Hue begin to be recognizable on the old maps in an area that was a hotbed for opposition forces during both the French and American wars.

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