Da Nang

Nearly every Marine who served time in Vietnam spent at least a little while in Danang. This was the entry and exit point for the military who were assigned duty in the ICorps. It was said the Danang airport was the busiest in the world with thousands of aircraft flying in and out every day.

I arrived in Da Nang the first time late in April of 1969. As the commercial jet made its final approach from the sea, all eyes in the cabin were glued to the windows. The plane was full of Marines, most of us on our first tour of duty in Vietnam. It was dark outside, leaving only a silhouette of the rugged mountains against the last glow of light on the horizon. Occasionally, flashes of orange light in the distance could be seen interrupting the inky blackness of the land below. I was too curious, too niave to be frightened.

Places such as Monkey Mountain, Freedom Hill, Dog Patch, and China Beach are all part of Danang's history. Not much can be seen of most of these places today. Monkey Mtn. and Freedom Hill are now bases for the Vietnamese Army and are off limits to visitors. China Beach is still as beautiful as ever, though. The warm water and gentle surf are inviting after a day in the hot city.

The huge natural caves in Marble Mountain have been used as religious sanctuaries for centuries. Even though they look over the Marine base we had at Freedom Hill, they were declared off-limits to any military action and were never searched by American forces. The VC knew they were safe here and used this area as an R&R center for their troops as well as setting up a full hospital in the largest of the caves.

 

Today, you can buy beautifully hand-carved statues in the shops located at the base of Marble Mountain. Just be careful. The prices they ask are exorbitant.