|Outline of old Military Police post at Camp Enari entrance|
Outlined in the middle of the pavement, there's a diamond shaped line of cement. This was the foundation that surrounded the guard shack at the base's entrance. The foundation itself was finally chopped down to road level two years ago, since motorcyclists kept having accidents from running into it at night. Given the amount of drunks driving around on motorbikes in Vietnam, that’s not surprising.
Looking around, I see no control tower, no old barracks, no fencing, nothing. There are now farming fields, and cattle grazing nearby. There are no other visible remnants of the old base in sight. It’s hard to believe that this was once Camp Enari, former base of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division.
|Camp Enari in 1969 (Archive photo)|
We hop back into the SUV and drive onto the former base, arriving at the former Hensel Army Airfield. Getting out again, I see serrated metal visible in the reddish dirt before me. Laid down by military engineers, this steel matting used to make up a layer of the runway. These old runway remnants are the only thing left. Everything else is gone. In the late 1960’s there were more than 10,000 American troops based on this patch of land. Now there are few traces left to show that they were ever here at all.
|Serrated lines in the dirt are the remains of the Hensel Air Field runway|
From here we get a view of Dragon Mountain which used to have a small US Army lookout post on top. It’s been replaced by two towers, a TV tower and mobile phone tower, on each end of the flat topped mountain. Technology is slowly coming to the highlands.
My guide tells me that a couple days ago, she brought a former USAF soldier named Kim here, who had served a tour of duty on Camp Enari. When she brought him back to the former base where he had spent a year of his life, he was stunned.
“He cannot believe how much it change,” she said. “He walk around for 1 1/2 hour, looking for things to remember.”
|Dragon Mountain today, topped with cell phone towers|
It’s not just the local Vietnamese who have suffered the ill effects of Agent Orange. Thousands of American soldiers became ill from their exposure to it as well. It seems that when it comes to Agent Orange exposure, the land may be recovering faster than people do.
|Old map of Camp Enari during the war|