Gia Vuc and the Song Re valley 
under Viet Minh control
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Photo of a Viet Minh flag donated by a friend of my father.
The flag was captured by dad's friend brother while he fought in Indochina unfortunately both  are deceased and no more Information is known.

On the flag lay two daggers and some French GCMAnd Para insignias

Since having learned in the 90's about the French mine field around Gia Vuc and the hard standing building which became the infirmary, I always wonder if its USSF A-teams were walking in the footsteps of a French unit which would have been garrison there 10 years earlier?

Back in the late 40's and early 50's the Song Re valley and villages likes Gia Vuc, Bat To, Ha Thanh where under firm Viet Minh control. The situation was pretty reversed from the one in the 60's. The French forces in the central highlands were under strength and ill equipped, for the French high command this was not an important theater of operation and therefore received low priority on men and equipment. The French where strongly implanted around Kontum and Ban Me Thuot but were only able to organizing raiding parties on area further north. One of their most northern outpost was Kon Plong where a lot of the operations started from.

Two of the main units which orgenised operations in the Song Re valley was the 4e BMEO ("Bataillon de Marche Extreme Orient") and the GCMA   “Groupement de Commandos Mixtes Aéroportés” the French Special Forces in Indochina.

Here is a list of some of the recorded operations they did. (please note there is probably more and the period from 1953 -54 is unknown but this is all I have found so far)

Operations relating to Gia Vuc with the 4e BMEO, 1949-1951

This come from a French man who has retraced the two tour of duties (just under 5 years) of his uncle Maurice Millour in Indochina.

On his first tour (37 months, 1948-51) Maurice Millour served with the 1/3ème BMEO and then 16e/4ème BMEO (16th Company, 4th Battalion de Marche Extreme Orient) at the outpost of 
Kon Plong in the central highlands, an outpost about 100k North East of Kontum situated on an elevated position nearby the dirt road /trail leading towards Gia Vuc, Ba To and finally the coast (what will be LTL58  during the Vietnam war.)

The Kon Plong outpost was surrounded by a vast expanse of forests and mountains, it was built on a small hill above a large valley housing a Montagnard village. The outpost was entirely made of logs, with the exception of two brick buildings and a few tin roofs. The main building was approximately 25 m long and 5 to 6 m high and wide with at one end the infirmary and the other end the radio room. Its most vulnerable part was the one facing the meadow and was made of a log wall pierced with fire ports. The post's enclosure was also made of logs: two parallel walls spaced 60 to 70 cm apart, filled with pebbles and earth, all reinforced with split bamboo set between the logs to limit erosion by rain. The build was carried out without a single nail and was held together with braided rattan. During heavy showers, running water did erode its construction resulting in holes which for ever needed filling up.

The 4eme BMEO consisted of one HQ company and 4 combat companies (13 to16 Co) totalling around 1000 men plus a training company the 17th Co.

The combat companies had a strength of around 173 men organised into 4 platoons with 3 squads per platoon. Each company had 2 French Officers, around 15 French or indigenous NCO and another 10 French corporals or PFC or soldiers. The montagnards were spread within the four companies according to their ethnic. 14 &16th been Sedang, the 15th Djarais and the HQ and the 13e with a mixture of both ethnics.

Armament of the 16th Co comprised of one heavy machine gun FM 24.29, a 120mm mortar in Kon Plong oupost, one 50m mortar for external operations, and a few grenade launchers.  The NCO had MAS 38 or STEN machine guns and most of the troop had old WWII worn out Canadian rifles.



Early in 1949 Lieutenant Jaques Pierre arrived in Ban Me Thuot operational area and in February took command of the Kon Plong garrison which was under strength.

On the 25th of May, Lt Pierre left the Kon Plong outpost at the head of reinforced platoon of about 50 men, including seven Europeans. During this operation which did last two days, this small troop reached the valley of Song Re by Viklum and Violac, then went up the right bank of the stream until Gia Vuc. Lieutenant Pierre noted that the hamlet of Gia Vuc was home to a Vietminh food supply centre, whose staff, estimated at one section, has fled on their arrival. After setting fire to the food depot, the reinforced platoon of the 16/4eme BMEO headed back to Kon Plong via sometimes very steep paths: a stretch of less than ten kilometres took over eight hours. This operation was one of the first French reconnaissance in the Song Re Valley which was under Vietminh control.


On October 14, a reconnaissance party send in the Song Re Valley three days earlier returned to the Kon Plong outpost. They had been ambushed twice, north of Gia Vuc and east of Kon Plong, resulting into one KIA and two WIA. During the two ambushes, PFC Bellei, a Kon Plong medic who accompanied the patrol,  rushed forward several times while under fire to attend the wounded. For his bravery and dedication, he received 3 regimental citation with a Croix de Guerre with bronze star.

The two wounded were evacuated the next day to Pleiku Hospital .



In February 1950, Hre Montagnards who had been forcefully enrolled into the Vietminh People's Army revolted. After having killed their cadres and Viet Ming commissars, they approach French posts to ask for their protection. Among these posts was Kon Plong. Lieutenant Pierre, the young and new CO of Kon Plong quickly realise the potential of that situation and supported the Hre revolt. He also organizes volunteers into a Hre paramilitary units of partisans under the name of "Action Hre".

On April 7 operation "Adrien" was launched to support the Hre uprising and to drive back Vietminh troops from the Song Re valley towards the coastal plain of Quang Ngai.  This newly formed "Groupe Mobile" (Mobile Task Force) was made of about 600 men with detachments from  the 2e BEP, the 1e BPC and the II/2ème REI as well as a newly formed and poorly trained unit of 150 Hre partisans.


From 7 to 13 April, the group moves from Kon Plong to the village of Gilang via Vitiong, Viklum, Vipée, Dak Xérong, Monit, then the valley of Song Ré until Ta Ma, and finally Gilang. During this part of the operation, only forward element made sporadic contacts with the Viet Minh.

From the 14th of April a landing strip, drop zones and a field first aid post were established in Gilang. Reconnaissance operations were launched in that area resulting in casualties for the 2ème BEP et du 2ème REI .  By the 22nd of April, it was established that 5 Vietminh battalions (4000 men) were now in that area and were closing in onto Gilang, so it was decided to abandon the Song Re valley and fall back onto Kon Plong.


A follow up operation "Gien" took place from 8 to 12 May. The operational element was another Mobile Task Force made up of the 15th and 16th Cie of the 4th BMEO, the "Compagnie de Marche" of the 1st BPC (Colonial Parachute Battalion) and a section from an Officers School platoon. It mission was to drive the Viet Minh out of the hamlet. Gia Vuc to set up a nearby outpost and recruit local troops.

The operation "Gien" did not succeed as much as the region was found empty of any significant number of enemies. Also the lack of trails, would have made the implantation of an outpost not viable due to being so much isolated without the chance of been rescued in time by road or trails.

Following the "Adrien" operation, it was decided to organize part of the Hre into a structured  military unit. This lead in mid-June to the creation in Kon Plong of USM 26 ( USM : " Unité Supplétive Militaire"  (Paramilitary Unit) with a strength of a company. Its initial armament was two FM Bren and a hundred rifles.
By mid-July 1950 its infrastructure was just three European non-commissioned officers. This unit will be later reinforced with automatic weapons and transformed into CCS 26 ( CCS : Compagnie de Commandos Supplétifs, (Paramilitary commando unit).

Corporal  Rene RIESEN from the 4e BMEO and author of " Mission spéciale en forêt Moï ".This is the only book regarding the French involvement with the Hre montagnards which had been  translated into English (new title "Jungle Mission" in 1957).

R Riesen received the task of supervising the Hrés volunteers, instructing them in guerrilla warfare and of forming villages self-defence groups [also known as "militia" or "goums"]. René Riesen did spend several years with the Hrés, becoming their war chief under the name "Ba Tamoï" (the father of Moïs), or "Ba tchiac gaho tabouac" (the white-haired father). One of Riesen's first missions was to form a unit of partisans in the village of Kon Pong , about 20 kilometres south of Kon Plong, with the aim of creating an outpost and raising a militia. The control of this village was indeed very important for the 16/4 BMEO since it covers, on the north, the position of Kon Plong and, westwards, the Kon Braih redoubt on the road joining Kontum and Kon Plong.

In June, many trails improvement works were carried out in the sub sector of Kon Plong, either south to Kon Braih or north to Kon Kléang or Gia Vuc.

On 31 December, the "Petits Hrés" self-defence group in the Mang Mou / Mang Rha area (Song Re Valley), armed with an FM, three MGs and one hundred and sixty rifles, turned themselves to the Vietminh following the betrayal of most of their troops.

Early January, information confirmed by patrols indicated the presence of 400 Vietminh around Mang Mou and Mang Rha, and another 1,200 in the Gia Vuc valley.

Gaston Mille commander of the 4th Montagnard battalion (the old 4th BMEO) decided to organize combat operation "Omer" in the form of a raid to the above Vietminh controlled area to recover all or part of the lost weapons as well as to collect information in view of a possible re-occupation of the villages of Mang Mou and Mang Rha. After 5 day of patrolling in and on the high ground of the Song Re valley, no contact was made with the enemy which had disappeared and the local population  appeared non co operative and under Viet Minh control.  

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 Operations relating to Gia Vuc with the GCMA, 1951-1952

By 1951, the CEFEO, "Corps Expéditionnaire Français en Extrême-Orient" had new counter-guerrilla units at its disposition thanks to their new commander in chief,  General de Lattre de Tassigny. These newly formed counter-guerilla units were the “Groupement de Commandos Mixtes Aéroportés” (GCMA) and the Commandos Nord Vietnam both were using para military locally raised indigenous forces and were often operating in the Viet Minh back yard.

The "Action Hre"  formed a year earlier by Lt Pierre from Kon Plong was passed over to Captain Hentic from the GCMA after having been given the mission of reorganising it into Military fighting unit for the GCMA.

In autumn 1951, Cpt Hentic with 2 or 3 French cadres and a Hre forces of 150-200 men, carried out more raids deep into Viet Minh controlled territory. These raids lasted from three weeks to six weeks reaching places like Vidzen, Vibliang and Gi Lang and rallied more troops and population through the lower valleys of the Son Hre.  

Trail Trail leading to ViMuk outpost, you can see the outer earth and wood berm defending 
the French small outpost.


26 April 1952, Cpt Hentic with less than three Hre "three centaines" left Gia Vuc and crossed the Song Re on the 27th and attacked and took Ba To in the morning of the 2nd of May. They destroyed all V-M installations and ammunitions depots as well as the VM 108 Regiment headquarters.
Then they disappeared in the jungle before the Viet Minh could react.  

 By the fall of 1952 with a Vietnamese Commando and a Hre platoon (approx 100 men),  Cpt Hentic achieved a two months deep reconnaissance via Dak To into Laos leading to Attopeu.  In its path, they destroyed Viet-Minh bases and laid booby traps on the Viet-Minh trails. During this reconnaissance mission they discovered in Laos a well camouflaged large tails network, Viet Minh staging and rest areas, food dumps etc. This was the first sighting of the famous Vietnam Ho Chi Minh trail! 

Unfortunately, this is all I have for the moment which lead us to the end of 1952 where trails leading to the valley of the Song Re and Gia Vuc were improved to facilitated a possible future French implantation to controlled that area.
By December 1952, Gia Vuc was still under Viet Minh control with no sign of having a French oupost but the war went on for a further two years!

Information translated by myself come 
from Philippe Millour website
as well as from Cpt Hentic's daughter, Anne Alexandre,
and books like Jungle Mission, R Riesen; Le Silence du Ciel, R Riesen; Les Heros Oublies, Erwan Bergo.

This is a fascinating part of Gia Vuc history and if you want to discover more regarding the French Special Forces and the 4th BMEO who both beat the bush in the Central Highlands, visit my French Indochina war section.

Enjoyed your article and web links for "Gia Vuc from 1945-54".  Once while returning from a local security patrol (summer of 1967) by way of the hill/mountain located immediately to the NE of Gia Vuc I spotted an old rusted out MAT-49.  It was located about 3-4 foot down on the side of a 5-6 foot gulley.  I have always wondered about how it came to be there and wondered about it's history.  I knew that Gia Vuc had been an old French fort, but did not realize the extent of Viet Minh activity in the area. Thanks to SFC Ron Knight (Demo)


Names from the 
"Jungle Mission"  book

Names identified on 
US 1960's map


Plaine de Gravuc   

Plain of Gia Vuc

15° 43' N  -  108° 05'E   Camp








 Vic Klum








Kon Plong

Kon Plong


Mang Buk

Mang Buk


Ba To Ba To
Vi Muk ?
Dak Ninh
Mang Mou 
Mang Rha

Regarding names and places, specially early during the war, they were very few maps and some of the names recorded may just had been written the phonetic way they were understood by the French. In the 60 's on US maps, the same village may have been written differently make it difficult to trace them.


Map Room


R Riesen Jungle Mission hand drawn map (1950's)

With map study by Robert M Hensler
Cpt MAT 1-27,  Duc Pho District, 
Quang Ngai Province, 1970





This map is huge so be patient, worth the wait

SERIES 1501, ND49-5, EDITION 2, 



Go to the Green Beret website Steve Sherman the  archivist for 
the Special Forces and Special Operations Associations  
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