Richard Lennon's 1998 Return Trip to Vietnam

In 1996, Richard Lennon, who served with the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam in 1968, returned to that country by himself. He subsequently posted many of the pictures from his trip at this site.

One of those photos attracted the attention of Jim Steffes, who had served aboard the U.S. Navy swiftboat, the PCF-12, in 1968. He contacted Lennon to discuss the loss, in June 1968, of the sister boat, the PCF-19 and 5 seamen. Without knowing it, both had been directly involved in the incident

After considerable research, using the Internet, Lennon and Steffes located a number of others with firsthand knowledge of the PCF-19 sinking. The group, ultimately, decided to return to Vietnam in late May/early June, 1998 to commemorate the loss 30 years earlier.

The following photos, taken by Lennon, are of their journey to: Hanoi, Hue, the former DMZ region along Route 9, Dong Ha and, finally, up to Cua Viet and north along the Gulf where the incident occurred. The group was the first granted permission to stay overnight in the lighthouse, since built by the Vietnamese at Cua Viet --- the previous home of the 1st Amtrac Battalion.

The entire trip, arranged by Lennon through Otto So Ky Quan (Otto So), of Sundance Travel in Hong Kong & Hanoi, cost the travelers $1800 /person --- which included travel to and from the States, lodgings. personal guides with drivers and vehicles, food, train tickets and tips. Otto So can be reached on the Internet at:

Richard can be contacted at: or by phone at 502-429-6200.

Note: Click on the blue button to see the image

-- Thuy Tien Hotel. Located in center of city w/ approximately 60 rooms. Very convenient for walking around. Excellent, relatively inexpensive accommodations.

-- A main intersection at the height of "the morning rush hour".

-- Presidential Palace --- used for official State meetings & receptions.

-- Ho Chi Minh mausoleum w/ HCM under glass. Very solemn place.

-- Group with guide, Ms. Huong (delightful), in front of US Embassy on weekend Ambassador Peterson got married.

-- West Lake (Ho Tay) --- in center of Hanoi made famous by Sen. McCain's unexpected drop in!

-- Monument erected by Vietnamese to Sen. McCain's "first visit".

-- Main entrance to Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), built in 1896. Notice new high-rise office complex now taking most of the site.

-- Another view of office/hotel complex.

-- Model of original prison grounds under glass. Today, only Buildings A, B, C & D remain. Office buildings take up remainder.

-- Same model as seen from rear of original complex. Courtyard must be familiar to too many American pilots.

-- Inside prison main entry courtyard. Stairway is attached to left of Building B, as seen in 10-Hanoi.jpg. Notice closeness of office building.

-- Sample cell in Building C.

-- Center hallway in Building C, with cells and cell doors.

-- Open room with racks and leg irons in Building D.

-- One of the two panels inside prison containing only acknowledgment that US servicemen had been there. Everett Alvarez, Ambassador Pete Peterson, John McCain.

-- Hue train station after an overnight journey from Hanoi.

-- Southern Gate/Flag Tower to the Citadel.

-- Main center entrance to the Imperial Palace/Walled City.

-- South wall of Citadel along Le Duan Street.

-- Inside main center entry to Imperial Palace grounds. Elaborate front building was used by emperors as a speaking platform to talk to people.

-- Huong Giang Hotel. 150 rooms at approximate location of LCU ramp on Le Loi street on south side of Perfume River.

-- Inside of Huong Giang Hotel. Quite elaborate. Rooms are among most pleasant in Hue. About $50 - 100 USD.

-- Thien Mu Pagoda down the Perfume River west of the Citadel.

-- View of Perfume River from hotel --- looking across Truon Tien Bridge toward Citadel at far left.

-- Looking west on Perfume River from a sampan ride. Favorite picture.

-- The Rockpile

-- Rock outcropping along Route 9 near Rockpile.

-- Myself & guide, Dinh Mien, at Dakrong Bridge leading from Route 9 south into Ashau.

-- The plain at former Khe Sanh Combat Base --- looking south toward end of runway. People in center are clustered around Vietnamese "Victory Monument".

-- Khe Sanh looking north toward Hills 950 & 1015

-- Young Montagnards selling metal objects dug up at Khe Sanh. Bought a dogtag and was able to return it to Marine evacuated in 1968.

-- Rockpile and Razorback in background.

-- Dong Ha main street (Route 1).

-- Only war damaged building still around. Was Catholic Church on Route 1 just at south end of Dong Ha.

-- Hotel sign on Route 1 in downtown Dong Ha.

-- Our hotel ( a motel, really). VERY cheap & VERY simple --- $15 - 18 USD.

-- Bridge on Route 1 into Quang Tri.

-- Main street of Quang Tri City.

-- Martyr Monument honoring military dead on road up to Cua Viet

-- 1 KM road marker on road up from Quang Tri to Cua Viet

-- Footbridge across creek in village of Cua Viet. Material looked familiar!

-- Looking down river over site of former Navy ramp. Small asphalt pad can be seen in bottom right.

-- Site of A Co., 1st Amtracs former CP.

-- New port facility on north side of river across from former Camp Kistler.

-- Lighthouse at Cua Viet. We stayed here.

-- Looking back at lighthouse and south shore of Cua Viet from sampan crossing river.

-- Beach on Gulf north of Cua Viet at site of Giem Ha Trung fishing village.

-- Site of C-4 bunkered position.

-- Faint shot of Tiger Island on distant horizon outside mouth of Cua Viet at dawn.

-- People of Cua Viet unloading incoming fishing boats in early morning.

-- Monument marking reunification of Vietnam at north end of Hien Luong Bridge across Ben Hai River on Route 1.

-- Looking south at Route 1 bridge across Ben Hai River.

-- Looking east on Ben Hai River at Route 1 crossing.

Looking due east from Gio Linh (now called Doc Mieu) across "the desert" in the far. Hill 31 sand dune can be seen at left.

-- Same shot as previous photo --- just more of Gio Linh combat base seen in foreground.

-- Looking southeast from Gio Linh across the desert. Right side of picture is looking toward C-4.

-- Same as previous ---looking SE with more of combat base in foreground.

-- Looking due south (backward) up rise of combat base toward an underground bunker.

Close up shot of Hill 31 at western edge of the desert.

-- Me on Reunification Train after 16 hour trip from Hue back to Hanoi.

-- Bunk on Reunification Train. Fairly primitive.

-- Crossing Ben Hai River on train going north.

-- Noi Bai airport in Hanoi. New airport building under construction.

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