Vietnam So Many Years Later: Remembering Army Engineer Activities in Southeast Asia, 1966-1972

During the conflict in Vietnam, U.S. Army Engineers played a significant role in support of U.S. and allied forces, both in construction and in combat. Over those years, an OCE (Office of the Chief of Engineers) Liaison Officer routinely traveled to various locations in Southeast Asia to visit army officers and engineer troops and to gather information on the many activities and projects undertaken by army engineers in the region. These liaison officers wrote reports, took photographs, and captioned the images. They then used these materials to brief their leadership in country and the Office of the Chief of Engineers and other Washington-based officials.

At least one set of these slides and reports was held by the U.S. Army Engineer Group, Vietnam, the 1972 successor to the U.S. Army Engineer Command, Vietnam. In 1974 they transferred the set to the Engineer Museum, part of the U.S. Army Engineer School. The materials were in turn given to the Office of History, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, upon the museum’s closure at Fort Belvoir when the Engineer School moved to Fort Leonard Wood.

The Engineer Liaison Officers made twenty-two trips around Vietnam and to other Far East locations between 1966 and 1972 and compiled almost 6000 slides and captions. The Office of History maintains copies of these slides and captions in its research collection. The images primarily depict army engineer activities and sites in Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Okinawa, and elsewhere; a smaller number show activities and facilities of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, South Vietnamese armed forces, and other international military units. A very few images depict scenery and local citizens.

Soldier and bulldozer in jungle clearing   Aerial view of a small base camp   Soldiers working on laying a runway
PFC Charles L. Slagel of Pekin, Ill., a dozer operator with the 27th Land Clearing Team.


Base camp of B Co, 70th Engr Bn while it is upgrading the air strip at the Polei Kleng CIDG camp.


Men of B Co, 14th Engr Bn placing M8A1 solid steel matting at Bao Loc, a C-130 runway.


Between October 2014 and March 2015, members of the USACE Veterans Curation Program digitized approximately half of the slides and worked with caption lists to create a finding aid for the collection. In May 2015, Office of History staff continued the project; in August 2018, an Office of History contractor converted the 300 remaining slides to digital files. The 35mm color slides are generally in remarkably good condition, with only a small percentage suffering from correctable color degradation. Although the nine slides posted in this gallery have been edited for visual clarity, no adjustments were made to the originals during the digitization process.

In January 2017, an initial complement of more than 700 unedited slides were made available on the USACE Digital Library hosted by the Corps’ HECSA Library. More slides were added periodically over the years until the last slides were uploaded in May 2023. Now the entire collection of 5900+ public domain slides is available to researchers to download. Each slide is linked to its detailed explanatory caption and has also been provided keywords, subject headings, and geographic locations, when known, thus providing users several ways to search the images on the Digital Library. In addition, the Office of History has prepared and posted a finding aid to the entire collection that lists the caption of every image.

Army engineer with survey equipment on dusty road   Army engineers sweeping for mines on a road   Soldiers look at plans while others are excavating
The 87th Engr Bn is enlarging Highway One from Phan Rang to Ba Ngoi by upgrading six bridges and adding 221,000 cu. yards of road surface.
Members of D Co, 35th Engr Bn sweeping for mines on Rt 1 near Bong Son. Nearly 30 miles of road are swept each morning prior to beginning construction work.
Members of the 84th Engr Bn preparing to place a concrete pad for a Quonset building, part of the Qui Nhon evacuation hospital. In the background is the post exchange.


The Vietnam Trip Briefing slide collection provides a valuable historical visual record of army, especially army engineer, activity during the Vietnam years. The high quality images depict the wide variety of activities and structures built by army engineers in Southeast Asia, from ports and airfields to barracks and latrines, from roads and bridges to offices and storage depots, from petroleum facilities to hospitals, cantonments to quarries. Visit the full collection on the Digital Library.

Aerial view of runway in red dirt and green fields   Soldiers on girders of a warehouse under construction   The sign for the 44th Engineer Group Northeast Task Force
Co C, 299th Engr Bn constructed this C-130 strip at Phu Nhon between 16 May and 6 June 1966. It is 3200 ft. long and is covered with T-17 membrane.​
This is the first of seven 100′ x 200′ steel warehouses being constructed by the 538th Engr Bn in the Army supply complex at Sattahip, Thailand.
Camp Ruam Chit Chai near Sakhon Nakhon, Thailand, the headquarters of the 44th Engr Gp Northeast Task Force.


Office of History, Mar. 2017
(updates Feb. 2019; Jan. 2021; May 2023)