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Phu Mu- Leong Nok Tha

Leong Nok Tha Airstrip Dedication

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Leong Nok Tha Airstrip
Phu Mu Microwave Site (Terry Colvin 1972-73)
Leong Nok Tha Airstrip Dedication
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at Phu Mu - Leong Nok Tha 

The abandoned airstrip is near Amanat Charoen, 50 miles NNW of Ubon and about 8 miles South of Camp Phu Mu.

Click Here for another Historical Viewpoint of Leong Nok Tha Airstrip

                A short history on Leong Nok Tha Airstrip
 

History of Leong Nok Tha Airfield. In 1965 the Airstrip was originally constructed by Commonwealth Troops Stationed in Malaysia from tarmac as a light aircraft landing airstrip. We were told that it was built as a goodwill gesture to the Thai government and help open up the economy of the region.


By the time I arrived at Crown the Tarmac was being ripped up to prepare for the Construction of the Airfield with a concrete runway. The reason for this was that the Tarmac strip was a disaster as the Tarmac surface began to crack up before it was ever used.  Apparently during construction underground water channels were compacted and blocked so that when the monsoons came the water got trapped under the strip and as it could not escape though the these channels it came up under the Tarmac causing it to lift
and crumble. I do not know if this is the true reason for the tarmac to crack up but several of the lads who were there at the time claimed that you could stand on the Tarmac and see it lift crack and water spout forth.


In February 1966 there were still some Australians serving in crown but as the Engineers were on a 3-month turnaround I don't think that more came after they returned on the next changeover and after that it was only the Brits. As the Airstrip had been officially handed over to the Thai government the powers that be seemed to be in a hurry to get the job done and the Engineers worked flat out on a two-shift basis. There were set backs,
one I remember in particular was when the Engineer came out from England to supervise the erection of the concrete batching plant a vital section of the hopper had been damaged en route and to hide the damage a section had been cut out and a steel plate welded over the hole and painted to match. As this was delivered before the Engineer Arrived no one knew of this until it was too late. It took a few weeks of cutting and welding
to rectify the damage.


The Airfield was finally completed in mid 1967 and once again there was a handing over Ceremony but as far as I remember the original 1965 plaque was never replaced and that will be the one mentioned in your article. When the Airfield was finishes the Brits remained at Camp Crown building roads further up country, I don't know for how long as I left Crown in late 67. Before I left, the Americans had some Porta-cabin styled huts with radio equipment just outside our camp I don't know for what purpose and I never asked? I do Remember that on of the Guys had an ex Tokyo police motorbike complete with siren and flashing lights the works. He had a perfect traffic free road in the runway where he could give it some welly.

 

I have read articles posted on the Internet as to how the strip later was used by Air America for covert operations in Laos, true or not I know not. We were out there to do a job and then we returned to normality many of your boys did not, may they rest in peace.
If you think I can help you further just send me an e-mail or just send one for the hell of it.

 

Story By: George Trainor George.Trainor@lycos.co.uk

Original subj: Leong Nok Tha Airfield
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 09:42:17 -0700

Hello ,

We discussed the building of and uses of Leong Nok Tha Airfield last August. My contribution is that I had a slide of the front gate with the brass plaque. The inscription is copied below. Others on the TLCB lists have stated the airfield was largely unused after 1969. It was an emergency airstrip of course for any aircraft that couldn't make it to a manned airfield. I don't know how many Thai or Lao aircraft made an emergency landing.

I was serving in late 1973 at Phu Mu Signal Site as the site commander. The war was winding down so the Army signal troops were replaced by Philco-Ford American contractors. As a buck sergeant (E-5) I reported directly to Intel and Security of U.S. Army Strategic Command - Thailand (USASTRATCOM-T) in Bangkok. I called in a status report by field phone relayed through a half dozen telephone switchboards.

Phu Mu site was about 20 SSW of Mukdahan. Mukdahan on the Thailand side of the Mekong River was situated across from Savannakhet, Laos.

Once a month a medic came up from Bangkok to test our water supply, look over our hooch living conditions, and in general inquire about our health. Well, he arrived on a two-engine (Army U-21) klong hopper that made the circuit
around Thailand. We used Leong Nok Tha Airfield. About an hour before the plane came in we would drive the 50 miles to the airfield. Then we would drive our jeep up and down the runway to get the boy and their water buffalos out of the ditches and a safe distance from the runway. The pilot would buzz the strip two or three times to insure a "safe" landing. I have other slides of the control tower leaning at an angle on its steel strut legs.

In brotherhood, Terry Colvin


Re: TLC-Mission: Mystery Near Mukdahan [airfield update]
Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 18:10:06 -0700

JTHARROD@aol.com wrote:
In 66-67 while I was at Mukdahan Radar Site, the Britts were in Thailand from Singapore and were building a runway called Crown Field. It was located about 35 air miles South-southwest of Mukdahan. It was supposed to become
operational just about the time I was due to rotate to the states, in May of 1967. They had constructed it of asphalt and the first time a heavy transport landed it sank up to the hubs. Last I heard was that instead of being able to go back to Singapore, they were being held over to tear it all out and replace it with concrete. Haven't heard the name Crown Field mentioned again. Has anyone on the net ever heard of the place????
One rumor (#2020) was that it was to be used for emergency
recoveries. Would appreciate any information. Thanks...

Jim Harrod
Viking 28
Scope Dope of The Highest Degree
New Kid On The Block
Mukdahan Radar Site 66-67

Yes, this abandoned airstrip is near Amanat Charoen ~50 miles NNW of Ubon. I've got a slide of the brass plaque stating the Royal British Engineers constructed it in 1966[?]. We used the airstrip in late 1973 to bring in the medic and other visitors to Phu Mu Signal Site. Drove our jeep up and down the runway honking the horn to scare the water buffalo and their boy handlers off the runway.

Got to get my slides out of storage!

Terry

Brothers, update on the Leong Nok Tha Airfield with correct spelling on a rusty sign at the entrance. The brass plaque reads:

LEONG NOK THA AIRFIELD BUILT BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FOR THE DEFENCE OF THAILAND 1963 [EMBLEM] 1965

THE WORK WAS DONE BY OFFICERS AND MEN OF COMMANDER ROYAL ENGINEERS (WORKS) CROWN WHOSE EMBLEM IS SHOWN THIS PLAQUE COMMEMORATES THE OPENING OF THE AIRFIELD BY H.E. MINISTER OF DEFENCE FIELD MARSHAL THANOM KITTIKACHORN ON 17TH JUNE 1965
Now we know the origin of the nickname Crown Field.

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