The Rockpile Vietnam, also known by the US military as Elliot Battle Base, is an isolated karst rock that juts north of Route 9 and south of the DMZ Vietnam. This place used to be a US observation base during the Vietnam War. Its location makes it relatively difficult to reach. You need to use a helicopter to reach the top of the hill. When entering a time of peace, this is no longer an observatory but becomes a tourist destination.
Every year, many tourists go to Rockpile Vietnam War to remember the heroic war days of the Vietnamese people. There are some American veterans who also regularly visit to remember the hard times of the war. Although it is difficult to reach, visitors can still see the Rockpile base from afar and take pictures of it.
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The Rockpile Vietnam Location
The Rockpile Vietnam is situated in the southernmost boundary of the Vietnam DMZ, 26km west of Dong Ha. A Marine scouting team described it as resembling a toothpick-shaped mountain that juts out into the middle of an open area with cliffs. Because of the unique terrain, this place has become a base to observe the activities of the Vietnam People’s Army.
The Rockpile Hill is nearly 240m above the bottom of the Cam Lo River and lies on some of the main infiltration routes from North Vietnam and Laos. The hill was recorded by a small reconnaissance team of the Marines on July 4, 1966. Since then, the site has been noted and has become a unique base for American Marines. This is where American and South Vietnamese forces can observe the activities of the People’s Army of Vietnam.
Rockpile is situated at the intersection of five significant valleys, about 10 miles from the Vietnam Demilitarized Zone. Not only that, but it also has a commanding view of the surrounding area, including several vital routes. Thanks to its height, it can see the whole view and be used for war purposes.
Strategic Significance of The Rockpile Hill
The location of the Rockpile Vietnam has an excellent geographical position for observation, so the US has set up an observation team here. Its location gave the Americans the upper hand in defending and resupplying Khe Sanh Combat Base, Ca Lu Combat Base, and Camp Carroll. As a result, potential ambushes could be stopped along Route 9 in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
The surrounding mountains on either side of Route 9 provided the Democratic Republic of Vietnam troops with good hiding and ambush points. So, the US ordered them to occupy the top of Rockpile to force them to move on a different, higher and more dangerous path.
The Battle of Hastings
When American soldiers discovered Rockpile Hill in July 1966, some soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam were still active there. So a battle raging for this vantage point was inevitable. The battle for the mountain occurred during Operation Hastings and involved 8,000 Marines and 3,000 South Vietnamese soldiers.
American troops used the base at Dong Ha as a staging area to organize an attack on the area around Rockpile. The man in charge of the Hastings campaign, Brigadier General Lowell English, claimed that they could attack and destroy the army of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The campaign ended on August 3, 1966, and Rockpile was officially under American military control. Since then, Rockpile has had at least one squad of U.S. Marines stationed there. Those stationed here will receive their supplies via helicopter.
American Soldiers’ Life in The Rockpile Vietnam
The Rockpile Vietnam’s position is quite fragile and can be easily attacked as it lies alone in the middle of the forest. The American soldiers permanently residing here will have three tents to live in. The three large tents at Rockpile all have soil sieves used as bedrooms, a mess hall, and a first aid station. The dining tent has no chairs or tables, but they use boards to put the food on and stand to eat.
Daily necessities will be delivered via helicopter, so there is also a helipad in addition to the three tents. It was made of thick wood but was hardly used because the weather conditions were not suitable for landing. Soldiers who want to bathe must use water sprayed down from helicopters. Dirty clothes will be picked up by the helicopter and taken to another location to be washed.
Although life here is very difficult, the soldiers still want to come to the station. The reason is that the location is relatively safe, and most people can complete the return mission in a week to 2 months.
The Rockpile Vietnam Map
How to get to The Rockpile Vietnam?
You can get The Rockpile Vietnam by a taxi or motorbike from Quang Tri Center. But If you stay in Hue City, you should book the DMZ Tour Hue from Vietnam Shore Excursions. This is the best way to explore the DMZ Vietnam including the Hien Luong Bridge, Ben Hai River, Vinh Moc Tunnels as well as the Rockpile Base.