On the Road to An Khe


Professor Fred Bergerson speaking to the group - Photo by Edwin Keh '79

We took an early morning flight to Qui Nhon. Despite delays at the airport, the 1-hour flight was mostly pleasant. Upon our arrival, we were met by our new tour guide “Tom”. He proceeded to take us directly to the Bong Son area, where we explored the former Area of Operations of the 1st Cavalry and 173rd Brigade in Binh Dihn Province, stopping at Landing Zone English, LZE. 

This was the first stop of that included a site were Professor Fred Bergerson had been at during the war. According to him the area had changed dramatically. It is now primarily a rice field. 

In this video, Fred discusses the role of the Air Cavalry Division in the war.   


LZ English

LZ English

While at LZE, we had the opportunity to talk to some of the women who work in the rice fields. They were very curious about us. In particular, they were fascinated by the skin tone of the women in our group. It was a friendly visit. At the same time, what we saw here follows a theme I’ve observed  — that is, in different circumstances the people of Vietnam have adapted things left over from the War for their use. At the Cu Chi Tunnel complex, for example, we were shown how the soldiers used the things left behind by the US military for their purposes, anything from old tires for shoes, to bomb remnants used as tools and weapons. Currently, this old landing strip is now a rice field. Nothing is wasted in Vietnam and the US in a way continues to have an impact on the country. 

Bob Beard, a Vietnam Vet and member of our group, shared a story with the group about a similar group of women he encountered during the war.


After lunch and checking into our second hotel of the trip – a very nice spot near the ocean – we continued our tour. We headed south toward An Khe, the site of Camp Radcliff and Hon Kon Mountain, the former base camp of the 1st Air Cavalry Diving, the unit in which Fred served as a captain of the military intelligence. 

Fred Bergerson and Edwin Keh '79 at Camp Radcliff

Fred Bergerson and Edwin Keh '79 at Camp Radcliff

We were not sure if we would be allowed to stop at Camp Radcliff, but Fred’s determination to visit his old station won out and we made it onto the site. This was a more emotional stop – bringing back memories of time served in Vietnam. 


This was an exhausting day for the group – a lot of time spent on the bus – but it also gave the group the first opportunity to see the countryside of Vietnam. As we drove to through the area we explored both the history of Vietnam and its current situation. 

One of the most memorable sites for me were the sheets of rice that were being 

Woman working on the rice
Woman working on the rice
dried by the side of the road. While the government discourages this, probably due to road safety, the people continue to do what they have to do to make a living. Another thing that stood out was how hard the women of Vietnam must work.

About Ana Lilia Barraza

I am the media relations and news director at Whittier College.
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One Response to On the Road to An Khe

  1. Jim Westerberg says:

    By the 173rd Brigade are you referring to the 173 Airborne? Please give Dr. B a warm hello from a former student and mentee.

    Thanks for the insights.

    Jim Westerberg

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