Phu Cat Air Base was constructed in the former South Vietnam by the RED HORSE civil engineering squadrons of the USAF.
On 16 February 1966, during the initial survey to locate a new air base on the coastal plains of central Vietnam, Lt Col William H. Bordner, a USAF civil engineer officer, was killed when he triggered a phosphorus mine on Hill 151, an elevation rising out of the plain a kilometer west of the future airbase site. He and a party of engineers had been transported to the hill from Qui Nhon by a helicopter of the Army's 161st Aviation Company. The main thoroughfare of the base site was named "Bordner Boulevard", and Hill 151 became unofficially known as "Bordner Hill".
The site for the new air base was selected in March and designated Base X. In April, troops of the Republic of Korea Army's Capital ("Tiger") Division cleared the base area of Viet Cong forces. On 1 May, a Korean subcontractor of the RMK-BRJ construction consortium (Raymond International, Morrison-Knudson; Brown and Root; J.A. Jones Construction), arrived to build a camp for contractors and ROK security units. By 1 June, a temporary 3000-foot dirt airstrip and a few barracks were completed. Construction of roads, utilities, the airfield complex, bomb dump, and control tower continued until the northeast monsoon temporarily halted work in September.
The RED HORSE contingent constructed a camp for the 819th CES (Heavy Repair), tasked to build the base but still training at Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas. A 55-man advance party from the 819th CES arrived directly from the United States on 6 August, followed by the entire squadron a month later, and began construction of all vertical structures on the base.
On 20 December 1966, concrete pouring commenced on the main runway; although several records were set for the most concrete poured in a single day in Vietnam, the runway did not open for operations until May 1967, and temporary runway remained in use until August. By October, all military personnel were living in permanent structures. During January 1967, as construction of the main runway, taxiways, barracks, and other infrastructure progressed, more Air Force personnel and units arrived.
With its opening in 1967, Phu Cat became a major operational base. The USAF forces stationed there were under the command of the Seventh Air Force, United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). Phu Cat was the location for TACAN station Channel 87 and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions. Its military mail address was APO San Francisco 96368.
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