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Camp Radcliff

Named in honor of
Major Donald G. Radcliff, the first man from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) to die in Vietnam, Camp Radciff was home (photo courtesy Dan Mourer 19th Eng Bn) to the 1st Cavalry Divsion (Airmobile) and the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate). This base camp was constructed in early 1966 by the 70th Combat Engineer Battalion, and attached companies: Bravo Company of the 84th Construction Engineer Battalion, the 511th Engineer Company (Panel Bridge), and the 603rd Engineer Company (Light Equipment). They also maintained Hwy 19, built lots of LZs, fire bases, etc.

It was a sprawling base (photo courtesy James Claeys 3/8th 4th Inf) surrounded by a perimeter defense known as the Green Line (photo courtesy Dan Mourer 19th Eng Bn). It was subjected to mortar attack, sniper fire, or infiltration almost every night.

The "Golf Course" was the name given to the helicopter landing area at Camp Radcliff. It was called this because the Assistant Division Commander Support of the 1st Cav, Brigadier General Jack Wright, decreed that the landing area would be cleared by hand, instead of using heavy equipment which would strip the area of its protective grasses and bushes. Without the grass and bushes to anchor the soil, the area would be a dustbowl during the dry season (not good for helicopters), and a quagmire during the monsoon. Wright said that by clearing the area by hand it would be "as clean as a golf course". The name stuck and even appears on topographic maps of the facility.

Hon Cong Mountain was a large hill that became part of the base. It was rumored that the 1st Cav left food out on this mountain, which was within the perimeter of Camp Radcliff, in order to keep the scattrered NVA on the mountain alive, so that they could be used as targets for the Cherry School classes conducted for new in-country arrivals. I have no idea whether this was true or not.

On the south side of this mountain, the 1st Cav had constructed a full color, giant sized replica of their shoulder patch. The 173rd Airborne Brigade, upon arrival at Radcliff, decided to build a full color replica of their shoulder patch as well. You could see these things, which stood several stories high, from a great distance. This was Stephen Girard work at its ultimate.

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Creation Date: Monday, November 10, 1997
Last Modified: Sunday, July 18, 1999
Copyright © Ray Smith, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999