|The following is a list of publications mentioning Phu Lam which we have found. If you know of any others, please forward the information to Joe Rokus (Mar. '67 - Feb. '68) at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks. [Last update: July 17, 1999, Joe Rokus]
COMMENTS: This is a well-written and well-documented history of the U.S. Army Signal Corps from its origin through the early 1990s with a 31 page chapter devoted to Vietnam. Phu Lam is only mentioned in reference to its message load in 1965. Two excellent pictures are included: The first is of the billboard antennas of the BACKPORCH system taken in 1963 with no permanent buildings apparently yet on the site. The second is a good aerial view of the base which includes the two story barracks, and which was taken in February 1970 (see below).
NOTE: As of mid 1998, Ms. Raines was still a historian at the Center of Military History. The following is an email in reference to her book she sent to Phu Lamer Joe Rokus:
Thanks for your kind words about my book. It was a labor of love that
I spent about ten years on.
The photo on p. 369 was taken in February 1970. I found it at the
National Archives. They have all the Army's photos taken in Vietnam.
That particular photo is #CC-67632. It is the only one I have of Phu
Lam. If you wish to order the photo, you should contact the Still
Picture Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601
Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. The Army's operational
records created in Vietnam are also at College Park in the custody of
the Textual Reference Branch.
I'm afraid I do not know what happened to the Phu Lam facility after the U.S. pulled out. We do have several historians here at the Center
who are writing combat histories of the war. The volume on the Tet
period is being written by Dr. William Hammond. His email address is
the same as mine except the prefix is Hammond. Another of our
historians who visited Vietnam recently is Dr. Dale Andrade. His email
prefix is also his last name.
Have you looked at the volume by Gen. Thomas Matthew Rienzi,
"Communications-Electronics, 1962-1970" published by the Center of
Military History? He has some references to Phu Lam, and I believe he
may also have used your history as a source. I think his book is still
in print and available from GPO.
You might wish to contact the U.S. Army Military History Institute at
Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013-5008 for whatever material they may have.
The Institute collects manuscripts from private individuals and may
have some that relate to Phu Lam. General Rienzi has a collection of
papers there. The Institute also has a large library of published
material and a photo collection.
I wish you much luck with your project. Please let me know if I can
be of further assistance. I would like to get a copy of the history
when it is completed.
TITLE: "United States Army in Vietnam Military Communications A Test for Technology"
COMMENTS: The author's career includes being an advisor to a South Vietnamese signal battalion, an instructor at West Point, commander of the 51st Signal Battalion in Korea and a military historian at the Center of Military History. He also served as an army staff planner and as a speechwriter to the Secretary of Defense. In 1985 he left the military to become a staff vice president for RCA. His 515 page book is a good reflection of his background. It is very, very detailed, with quite a few pictures and literally hundreds of footnotes indicated that a huge amount of research went into writing it. Phu Lam is mentioned extensively, and all the information is very consistent with the other historical data we have collected. It contains considerable information and pictures about Phu Lam. (The "History of the Phu Lam Signal Battalion" written by Phu Lamer Joe Rokus in November 1967, is referenced as a source a number of times.)
The book also contains some excellent pictures, specifically, shots of the BACKPORCH antennas in the early 1960s (a different picture than in the other books), the satellite receiver site at Ba Queo, the Joint Overseas Switchboard, inside of the teletype relay center, inside of the data relay center, and the circuit conditioning equipment in the Technical Control Section. It appears that Lt. Jesse Oswalt is shown in the data relay center picture.
COMMENTS: The author served in Vietnam as the Deputy Commanding General and then the Commanding General of the 1st Signal Brigade starting in 1968. In 1970 he assumed command of the Strategic Communications Command, Pacific. Completed in 1971, the book covers all aspects of the Army's communications systems in Vietnam through 1970 very thoroughly from the vantage point of someone who had a unique perspective and access to the facts and records. Unfortunately, the last part of the U.S. disengagement from Vietnam occurred after the book was published.
Phu Lam, the Regional Communications Group, the satellite terminal at Ba Queo, etc. are mentioned extensively with approximately 30 specific references to Phu Lam - from the establishment of the base in the early 1960s, through the build-up in the mid 1960s to the reorganizations, the technological changes and the start of the wind-down by 1970. Phu Lam is shown on several maps and organizational charts.
Particularly interesting are the Phu Lam-related pictures which include shots of the BACKPORCH antennas in 1962 (the same picture as in the book by Rebecca Robbins Raines), the Ba Queo satellite terminal, the switchboard with four operators, the inside of the manual tape relay center with two operators, a data transmitting terminal with one operator and the Automatic Message Switching Center with one operator. Unfortunately, none of the Phu Lamers in the pictures are identified by name.
This 184-page book was published in a format reminiscent of the style and size of an Army field manual and, interestingly, originally sold for $1.55!
The film/tape covers the Vietnam portion of the Defense Communications System (DCS) as it was in 1966 in considerable detail. There are extensive shots of Phu Lam which include the following: the high frequency and troposcatter antennas, the front gate, the transmitter section, the switchboard, the Teletype relay facility, the data terminal section and the Tech Control section. The troposcatter system in Vietnam and Thailand is described, and footage of communications installations at Vung Tau, Dalat, Monkey Mt., Danang and Nha Trang is included as part of the description of the Integrated Wideband Communications System (IWCS). The tape includes shots of quite a few Phu Lamers who were there when the film was made - probably early 1966.
COMMENTS: The purpose of this pamphlet, which was distributed to all major Army units worldwide, was to "assist the soldier-communicator in the execution of his mission, that of providing his commander with responsive and reliable communications to 'Keep the Shooters Talking.'" It featured the Phu Lam Signal Battalion in a 46 page article titled "Unit in the Spotlight: Phu Lam Signal Battalion (USASTRATCOM) (PROVISIONAL)." It presents a very detailed snapshot of Phu Lam not only from an operational point of view but also in terms of recreational facilities as of early 1970. It describes the mission of each of the four companies which constituted the battalion at the time to include equipment and circuits being operated, staffing levels, key accomplishments, etc., including organizational charts and circuit routing diagrams. The "Troop Facilities" section includes short descriptions of the library, the swimming pool, the post exchange, the crafts-photo center and other "off-duty" facilities.
We are very grateful to Phu Lamer Wray Hall for keeping a copy of this publication and sharing it with us.
"(On 1 February) the Phu Lam tape relay center reported significant increase in backlogged traffic. Attempts to have messages delivered by air courier were unsuccessful because enemy activity had closed the Tan Son Nhut Air Base."
"The Phu Lam facility was hit with more than 20 rounds of mortar on 8 February, with most landing in the troop area. Fifteen brigade personnel were injured and one PA&E civilian required evacuation. (Willie Dougherty reports that actually two, instead of one, civilians were injured.) A 50-ton air conditioner was also damaged, knocking out vital air conditioning for the tape relay center. For several hours, Phu Lam was accepting only flash and immediate traffic. Intense efforts were made to obtain auxiliary units to repair the air conditioning, and repair was accomplished the following day."
"(On 18 February) fifty mortar rounds hit the Phu Lam site shortly after 0400, but damage was slight although the Joint Overseas Switchboard was out for a short period because of loss of power."
COMMENTS: This is a 16 mm, silent, unedited, color, 950 feet long motion picture film. According to the summary available on the National Archives' web site, footage includes shots of the Phu Lam Automatic Switching Center (various pieces of equipment and Phu Lam personnel operating that equipment and in the Technical Control Section), of the chapel, of the billboard antennas and of the transmitter building.
COMMENTS: This is a 16 mm, silent, unedited, color, 675 feet long motion picture film. According to the summary available on the National Archives' web site, the first half (385 ft.) of the film includes various shots, including tank maintenance, etc. which are probably not related to Phu Lam. The second half of the film (390 ft.) was shot on December 11, 1971 and includes footage of the new radome for the Satellite Communication Site, the 1st Signal Brigade Headquarters, and the "DCS Station Phu Lam" with soldiers packing communications equipment into crates and stacking equipment onto pallets outside of the complex.
COMMENTS: This history, which covers the evolution of the Phu Lam Signal Battalion and its predecessor organizations through late 1967 in considerable detail, is based on historical records available to Lt. Rokus while stationed at Phu Lam. It has been referenced in several publications pertaining to military communications in the Vietnam War, but does not cover any events at Phu Lam after 1967. (Phu Lamer Bill Seater gets credit for independently "re-discovering" this document in the National Archives before Joe Rokus "found" the Phu Lam Network.)
NOTE: An outline of the significant developments at Phu Lam during its entire period of existence is posted on the Phu Lam Signal Battalion web site as "Phu Lam Signal Battalion Key Events". This is a developing document (as of July 1999), and it is hoped that as more information becomes available, it can serve as the basis for a more complete history of the Battalion. (Please submit any contributions to Joe Rokus: email@example.com)
TITLE: "Phu Lam Is `Switchboard` for the War"
IDENTIFICATION: ISBN Number: 0-671-08159-4; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-2969; Dewey Decimal Number: 959.7 Stanton AVAILABILITY: No longer in print. Is available through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com on a special order basis. Should be available in larger libraries as well as through inter-library book loan services. (For example, the Leominster, MA library had a copy which was obtained through the Sturbridge, MA library at no cost.) PRICE: Used copies through on-line bookstores from approximately $50 to $150.
COMMENTS: This book is an incredibly detailed compilation of data
pertaining to the U.S. Army units which served in Vietnam. (I talked to
the author briefly, and he indicated that it took him about 10 years to
complete the book.) Chapter 15 (9 pages) covers the battalion-size and
larger Signal Corps units, with a paragraph for each giving the Arrival
Date, Departure Date, Previous Station, Authorized Strength, a brief
description of the unit and a picture of the unit's insignia. The
chapter heading also shows a picture of what appears to be the JOSS
Switchboard at Phu Lam. All of the units which Phu Lam was associated
with appear to be included. This is an invaluable resource in trying to
reconstruct the organizational development of U.S. Army communications
in Vietnam, and of Phu Lam in particular.
The following are miscellaneous, relatively minor, references in various publications to either the Phu Lam Signal Base or to the Village of Phu Lam during the Vietnam War era.
2. "The Vietnam Experience The Fall of the South" by Clark Dougan, David Fulghum and the editors of Boston Publishing Company. 1985. Page 134: "On April 18 (1975), shortly after a Communist commando squad struck (the) Phu Lam radar installation on the western edge of the capital, MR (Military Region) 3 commander General Toan had called Thieu from his headquarters at Bien Hoa to tell him that the war was in effect already lost."
3. "The Vietnam Experience Nineteen Sixty Eight" by Clark Dougan, David Fulghum and the editors of Boston Publishing Company. 1983. Page 146: Description of part of the military activity surrounding what has been referred to as "Tet II" or the "Second Battle of Saigon" in May 1968: "At Phu Lam, Communist troops equipped with 75MM recoilless rifles and antiaircraft weapons were so well entrenched that it took the ARVN 38th Ranger Battalion, supported by armor, artillery, and tactical air strikes, two days to drive them out." A map is shown which indicates heavy fighting on May 25, 1968 in an area just east and south of the Phu Lam base where Highway 4 turns to the southwestern direction.
4. "The Vietnam Experience Tools of War" by Clark Dougan, David Fulghum and the editors of Boston Publishing Company. 1985. Page 35: A good picture of the Phu Lam base is shown with the title "Sixty-foot-high parabolic antennas break the skyline at the Phu Lam STRATCOM site, part of the tropospheric scatter system that linked major U.S. bases in Vietnam and Thailand across hundreds of miles of contested territory." There are no other references in the text to Phu Lam. The picture is the same one shown on page 47 of the book "A Test for Technology" by John D. Bergen. No date is given for the picture, and the source is only listed as "U.S. Army." (Note: Based on what is shown in the picture, it was probably taken prior to 1965.)
5. "The Vietnam Experience The Fall of the South" by Clark Dougan, David Fulghum and the editors of Boston Publishing Company. 1985. Pages 104-107: "Operation Babylift" is described in detail. Included are two pictures, one of the scene of the crash of the C-5A which crashed on April 4, 1975 near Tan Son Nhut with 243 orphans and 62 adults on board, most of whom were killed and another one of several small children strapped into their seats on the C-5A before take-off. Some of the orphans on board are believed to have been from the Hoi Duc Anh Orphanage which the Phu Lam Signal Battalion supported for several years.
|STORIES||LACEY DOCUMENTS||PHOTO's||BATTALION HISTORY|
|MISSING PHU LAMERS||PHU LAM ROSTER||PHU LAM BUILDINGS||IN MEMORY|
|OTHERS WE REMEMBER||HOI DUC ANH ORPHANAGE||PHU LAM IN PRINT||MAPS|
|KEY EVENTS||PHU LAMERS TODAY||MY CANH RESTAURANT BOMBING||PERSONNEL LISTS|
|WEB RINGS||PHU LAM's REUNION 2001||LINKS||PHU LAM's AWARDS|
|PHU LAM's SITE MAP||DINNER MEMORIAL||EMAIL HOWARD HICKMAN|