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Da Lat, Vietnam


Da Lat, Vietnam

Coordinates: 11 56 N 108 25 E

Population: 122,400 (2000 est.)

People have long been singing the praises of The City of Light, but for those lacking the ways or means to easily reach the famously beautiful stretch of the Seine, I’d like to pose an alternative: Little Paris. Better known as Da Lat (or Dalat), this city in Vietnam’s south-central Highlands took shape in the early twentieth century and remains one of the most Gallic-appearing urban areas in the country. Surrounded by evergreen forests and dotted with French mansions and hilltop villas, Da Lat boasts cable cars and a red and white Eiffel Tower replica too. Its temperate climate, scenic central lake, along with nearby waterfalls helped to protect it from the devastation wreaked by the Vietnam war, and continue to make it a favorite destination for vacationers and honeymooners today.


Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

Recent Comments

  1. Christopher Rose

    I spent quite a lot of time in Da Lat during my stay in Vietnam in the sixties and seventies. A complete change from Saigon and no American presence. A curfew every evening at eight o’clock and sometimes very dodgy driving to get there. One needed friends for the evenings and walking anywhere outside town was scary.

  2. Alan Moote

    I spent a year (1970) at Firebase Colgan, B/2/17, overlooking Dalat. Dalat was a beautiful place and I feel very fortunate to have been stationed there. We were able to go into the town during the day and go to the shops and restaurants. Some of my friends and I would visit the children at the Catholic orpanage. I think it was called Le Domaigne Ste Marie or something close to that.

  3. Lyn Hartman

    I was in Dalat 11/69-11/70 with Provisional Artillery Group (FB Colgan B2/17 HQ also). Lovely city, home to the presidential summer palace and VNMA.

  4. Floyd Parks

    Lyn, I was also at Prov Arty Gp in 1970. Matter of fact, I took your job when you left. Tholen, Zabrowski, Webber were still there.
    Do you remember any of the other names of our co-workers? Austin & Sample worked downstairs in the Communications section.
    Lyn, do you remember the name of the French restaurant that the officers (me too) liked so much.
    Dalat is a beautiful city setting.

  5. Gordon Vest

    Floyd…we were with the prov group at the same time. I remember you and zaboroski, tholen. don’t remember webber. There were a few guys that I’ve found over the past 40 yrs. The restaurant we all liked was the Lo Vieve…not sure how it’s spelled. We ate there a lot. Good memories of Dalat.

  6. Simon

    Hello I was at BBtry from Sept to March ’71. I went back in Feb ’07. The city is still beautiful. I ate at the Lo Vieve too.

  7. Barry Walter

    I was in Group S3 from Sept 1970 until Group redeployed back to Pleiku then went to Dak To until July 1971 when I finally came home after 47.5 months incountry. I always remember Dalat as a lovely city. The fog on the lake in the morning was haunting. The people were friendly with the history of the French influence. I would love to walk up the hill from the city to FSB Colgan in the morning again or play hearts until 2:00 am one more time.

  8. george c shuman (shu)

    I was in hdq 1st field force in 1970 especially June 1,1970 when we were hit. I think I was on Colgan but do not remember name of the firebase. I was called Shu.

  9. Glen Ford

    Was in Dalat a lot. Convoys from A battery 5th bn Duc Throng 1969 – 70. still remember the beauty of the city and the collage. Headquarters moved to Phan Rang.

  10. Floyd Parks

    Hey Gordon & George (Shu),

    Ken Webber came with me from the Grand Hotel, IFFV, II Corp HQ in August of 1970, from a pretty “cushy” environment! I volunteered to come to Prov Arty, but Webber had no choice. Prov Arty needed a couple of “good” guys (makes me wonder why I was one of them) and when we got there, we hit the ground running.

    I remember Lyn Hartman, Joey Sample, and Russell Austin very well, as well as SFC Horgan, Steven Massey, James Heulett, Russell Ratley, Dennis Paxton, Winfred Jones, and Richard Tompkins.

    COL Tuck really liked Gordon, if my memory serves me correctly. He liked me also, gave me a “re-up” speech before I came home. I came very close to staying in Vietnam, but it was pressure from home, my Dad’s failing health that made me think twice about signing on the dotted line.

    We were “hit” again sometime around November of 1970, and I was manning the roof of the Villa, squatting behind a short wall of sandbags with our Ltc ?????, I cannot remember his name right now. We were taking RR rounds and were searching the mountains across the valley for an indication of muzzle blast. The 105 battery (2nd, 17th) was firing on registered targets but had not seen anything to indicate where the fire was coming from. I finally gave up with the binoculars and used my “eagle eye”. Well, I actually saw a flash and pointed it out to the LTC. For some reason I said “Watch out” and we both lowered our heads for a second, just as I felt the heat of the RR round come right over our heads and impact in the valley to our east. The heat from the RR round almost sucked the air from my lungs, it was that close to us. Who knows what might have happened if we hadn’t bent our heads forward at that exact moment.

    LTC (What’s his name) looked at me, and I looked at him, and then we continued talking to the 105 battery (at FSB Colgan ?) FDO. I used my FO skills that I had honed at FDC School at Fort Sill and previously at FSB Plantation while serving with “Charlie” battery, 3rd/6th Artillery. The 3rd/6th was also a 105 unit (SP), so I was comfortable making visual adjustments under duress. The 2nd/17th FDC guys did a quick plot and fired a WP round and we asked for a slight adjustment of 100 meters right, and they fired for effect (HE rounds with VT fuse). They fire four tubes, three rounds each, and when it was over, there wasn’t any more RR rounds sent our way that night.

    If I remember correctly, one of the first rounds that night hit the bunker behind ours, and injured a sleeping GI, I believe he was with the firing battery next to Prov Arty. I was walkoing around the building as the round impacted and was knocked to the ground. I got up reacted along with the rest of the cadre, and donned my flack jacket and went into the HQ. LTC ????? and I went directly to the roof.

    I went straight to bed since I had to be up early for my S2/S3 duties. The next morning, my right knee really hurt and when I got up, it was covered in blood and my fatigue pants were torn. It was an deep cut all the way to my kneecap, but it was clean & straight. However, I lost my favorite pair of fatigue pants. I used peroxide and a butterfly bandage to close the wound, but I did limp for about a week. COL Tuck was disappointed when he chose me for his volley ball team, only to be told that I was injured.

    Funny thing, I remember most of the enlisted men, but very few of the officers names! Does anyone remember the LTC’s name??? A heavy set man of around 40 something, and wore glasses. Any other of the officers names. This is ridiculous because they always invited me to their hooch so that I could play guitar and drink Crown Royal with them. I wasn’t a drinker of hard liquor, so I laid off mostly, only taking a few small sips as they got “blasted”. I remember one of them always wanted to hear me play Beatles songs (which was one of my specialties), and another wanted to hear Jimi Hendrix, another of my specialties.

    The Captain and 1st Lieutenant (S2/S3) liked the Beatles, and the 1st Lieutenant with the Signal guys (Austin & Sample) liked Hendrix tunes. So my play list was sometimes like “Michelle”, followed by “Purple Haze”, followed by “Here Comes the Sun”. There was one night when I was challenged to play the whole “Abbey Road” album… and I did. I did it all from memory, and it turned out okay.

    The officers threw me a party the night before I left Prov Arty Gp, and it was fun. They gave me a bottle of Crown Royal, and I brought it back home with me in my carry on. When I was divorced a few years later, my still unopened bottle of CR disappeared in the shuffle, never to be seen again. I really regret that!


  11. Bob Flocke

    I was at Prov Arty Group from November ’70 through April ’71. The LTC (group XO) name was Buck. I was the group S1. I remember all that Floyd described, and had the misfortune of being with the group when it stood down. We convoyed to Phan Rang AB on the coast. Mine was the trailing vehicle in the convoy and we had to stop to set up a perimeter around one of the trucks that had a flat. Nothing happened, but it was awful quiet out there, and it seemed like it took hours to change that tire–probably about 15 minutes.

  12. Floyd Parks

    Hi Bob,

    I remember you, and I believe that I have a picture or two of you at our Christmas 1970 get together. I’ll try to post the pictures soon. I can be contacted here;

    faparksvietnam at gmail.com

    Good to hear from you


  13. Floyd Parks

    I would love to see some of the IFFV Prov Arty HQ / B-2-17th pictures. I know many of you have mentioned having pictures, it would be nice if there was a site available to share our pictures. Any ideas out there?

    Floyd Parks

  14. Floyd Parks

    Bob & Gordon,

    Do you remember how to get to the “Lo Vieve”? It seems to me like when we left the compound that we turned south. I was there only once. I remember that the restaurant faced a large open green space, which I wanted to find on Google Earth, but I’m struggling. Any help will be appreciated. I remember that on my only trip there, Gordon drove the jeep, and I think there were 5 of us that made the trip.

    Bob, who was the S2?
    Gordon, can you send me the roster? Thanks.

    Email me at the address below, and I will send a picture or two

    faparksvietnam at gmail.com

    Looking forward to hearing from both of you.

    Floyd Parks

  15. Paul Komsa

    I was in the Prov Arty Gp from late Nov ’70 until we all convoyed away to Phan Rang in April. I was in the S2 along with SFC Horgan. To answer the Q, CPT Chapin was the S2 when I got there. Cpt Yarlborough was S2 when we all left. I remember Nick Krafchik (Com) & John Means (Opr) very well as they also were with me at my previous unit (B Btry, 5th / 22nd) where Capt Chapin was our CO. I still have a pic (cartoon) by Joey Sample of everyone at Prov Arty when we closed up. Prov Arty was the best time for in Nam. – Also a shout our to Cleaves, Hulett, Tober, Pops, Zaborowski if you guys are still around.

  16. Lyn Hartman

    Floyd Parks

    I have tried to contact you several times. Contact me at [email protected]

  17. John Evans

    My name is John Evans. I read Floyd Parks 12 June 2014 post and it got me remembering.

    I was a 2LT with 2nd Plt, A Btry, 4/60 Arty (Dusters) at FB Colgan from 12/70 to 6/71. I remember five things about Da Lat. (1) The best French onion soup I ever had was at the French restaurant downtown. (2) The coldest I’ve ever been in Viet Nam was at Da Lat (I had gun sections at Ban Me Thout, Cam Ranh, and Nha Trang too). (3) When I arrived at Colgan I eventually went to “BOQ hooch”. I asked why all the inflated air mattresses were by the door. I was told they were used to paddle to your bunk after it rains. There was an empty rack in the BOQ. I threw my gear on it and one of the LTs from 2/17 said, “The last guy who slept on that rack took a 57 recoilless round through his chest.” I took my stuff and bunked with my Duster crew. (4) I remember the group commander COL ??? always standing on the roofs of hooch’s at dusk. I was told he was overrun twice on earlier tours. Spooky. (5) The only time I refused to take a mission was at Prov Grp HQs. The S-3 told me to take my two Dusters and support an Engineer road building party at a work site that I had been to before. The road to the Engineers was cut into the sides of the highland’s mountains by the Japanese in the 1940’s. Looking down into the ravine I could Japanese and French tanks knocked out by the Viet Minh. There were an M-60 and an M-113 put there by the VC/NVA. Ambush alley. I never liked going there because it ran contrary to everything I learned in Ranger School. “Never return by the same trail that you used going out. You will be ambushed by the French and the Indians.” (We were taught to follow MAJ Robert Rogers’ rules from the French & Indian War.) There was only one way in and one way out for my section.

    I was to go at first light the next day. As we were getting ready to go the Group S-2 (a captain) came running to me and asked if the S-3 had mentioned anything about enemy contacts on the high ground overlooking the road I would use. “No, sir.” I said. The S-2 brought me to his office and gave me 10 minute lecture as to what was happening. There was an NVA unit bushwhacking RF/PF units on the high ground. I went to the major (S-3) and told him I was NOT going to risk my men on a fool’s mission. Then I called my battalion HQ in Tuy Hoa to tell them what I had done. Within two months I was pulled out of my platoon leader slot and became a general’s aide-de-camp.

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