MCAS Rose Garden ~ Nam Phong, Thailand

In July of 1971, there were less than 500 Marines in Vietnam.

In the spring of 1972, the North Vietnamese launched a full scale invasion into South Vietnam and that triggered the re-entry of Marines back into combat.

A special organization labeled Task Force Delta was formed in May of 1972 and given the classified mission of constructing and operating a secret air combat base hidden deep in the Thailand jungle approximately 300 miles SW of Hanoi, North Vietnam.

The location chosen was an old post World War II airstrip that was being used as an Army special forces training facility. There was nothing there but jungle, extreme heat, humidity and red clay.  The base was desolate. There was no fresh water and everyone survived on C-rations for the first thirty days until a primitive field mess could be set up. In the beginning, there was no power, no bathroom facilities, no barracks, no chapel, no comforts of any kind and these Marines along with members of the Navy’s Seabee Battalion 5 worked 12-16 hours a day and slept in six man tents. But within five weeks, 17 June, 1972,  Task Force Delta had constructed a fully functional air base and combat operations commenced with Marine F-4 Phantoms of VMFA-115 and VMFA-232 and A-6A intruders from VMA(AW) 533 flying combat sorties into Laos and North Vietnam. After a few months, a chapel, mess hall, semi-permanent hard back tents, field showers and outhouses were constructed.

The first team consisted of 377 Marines from Da Nang, South Vietnam and Iwakuni, Japan, 94 US Navy Seabees, 60 Airmen and 91 civilians.

The base borrowed it’s nickname, Rose Garden, from the popular song: “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” by country music artist Lynn Anderson. This was due to the base being deep in the remote jungle of Thailand and the extremely harsh conditions in which the Marines had to work.

When the war ended and the final colors were lowered at Nam Phong on 21 Sept. 1973, Task Force Delta had racked up an impressive combat sortie rate. VMFA-115 and VMFA-232, the F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers, had the highest sortie rates of any land based F-4 units in Southeast Asia.

The base in Nam Phong Thailand has the distinction of being the last combat outpost to close the Vietnam War.

Rose Garden Oasis is the Official 2020 Reunion on-line base exchange for the veteran members of MCAS Rose Garden; the Nam Phong, Thailand Air Support Base named in honor of the 1971 Marine Corps recruitment campaign inspired by country star

Lynn Anderson's timeless hit, "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden".


© 2020