"Repo Depot"- the Combat Center at Chu Lai, Vietnam 1967 - 1971

The Americal Division replacement depot training center opened on the beach at Chu Lai in 1967.
Most soldiers attended a 6 day long course that culminated in a live fire combat patrol and night

This sign at the Combat Center informed "newbies" about the units they would soon join.  Two photos
from Dave Bliss (C/1-6 Inf 1967 -68).

Eventually the Combat Center moved into more permanent quarters adjacent to the beach.  Photo
provided by Clint Whitmer (3/B/1-6 Inf 1968-69)

An article by PFC Lee Habich in the November 6, 1970 issue of the Americal Division newspaper,
the Southern Cross, told about the Combat Center in an article entitled "Combat Center provides vital
services for div"

CHU LAI (AMERICAL IO)  -- Since its first day of operations, December 17, 1967, over 50,000
incoming troops have passed through the division's Combat Center.  In its first month alone the center
processed 2,100 replacements, no mean feat for the young organization.
     The Combat Center, created by General Order 1398 shortly after the division established
headquarters in Chu Lai, has continuously broadened its training classes to keep pace with the changing
tactics of guerrilla warfare.  Today, in addition to its replacement program, the Center conducts 125
different classes in five intensive training programs.
     Regardless of our final assignment in the division, each of us in the division spends approximately
a week at the Center.  It is during this time, points out training coordinator Sergeant First Class John
C. Austin, Natchez, Miss, "that the Center strives to refresh individual combat skills as well as familiarize
incoming personnel with the division area of operations."
     The staff, consisting solely of combat veterans, is more than adequately prepared to discuss in depth
this area of operations.
     Individuals having a non-combat MOS receive 23 periods of instruction during their stay at the Center.
Topics covered range from Vietnamese relations to sapper techniques.  Those with the combat MOS
receive additional blocks of instruction, such as communications security, map reading and survival tactics.
In total, combat personnel attend 37 different classes.
     While a great many of us sever ties with the Combat Center upon receiving our assignment orders,
there are a number of other programs available at the Center for members of the division.
     The senior of those programs is the Combat Leadership program.  Originally established to alleviate
the demand for NCOs during the formative days of division operations, the program has proven to be
a lucrative source of squad leaders for combat units.  It involves 12 days of intensive leadership training
and is given to individuals who have spent three to four months in the field.
     When it became obvious that the leadership school was making a valuable contribution to division
effectiveness, the program was broadened to include combat support elements.  Today both programs
operate side by side with a slightly different emphasis determined by the nature of the unit involved.
     In addition to the leadership schools, the Combat Center maintains a reconnaissance program which
trains whole platoons size elements.  The emphasis is on field maneuver calling for close coordination
among a large number of men.  The Center also has an ARVN officer program which stresses leadership
and forward observer techniques.
     As interesting sidenote about the Center is that in addition to passing through it upon arrival to the
Americal, everyone leaving the division again processes through it.  This is done through the liaison team
which the Center maintains around the clock at the Chu Lai airport.  In a very real sense it might be said
that the Combat Center provided the uniting links in the division.
[end of article]

2LT Wm Collier (3/A & E Mort/1-6 Inf) arrives at the Replacement Detachment, Americal
Division Combat Center in October 1969.

Looking toward the South China Sea from the BOQ hut.  The Americal unit crests for all the
battalions were located on the back side of the large white movie screen.  Photo from Wayne
Johnston (1-6 Inf 1970-71)

The following 1970 photos of the Americal Division replacement center were provided by Bud Carlson
(D/1-6 Inf)

June 1970.  Early evening photo of "Main Street" of the Americal Repo-Depot taken from the NCO
Hootch area looking westward.  Newly arrived soldiers stayed in these buildings while undergoing
training before reporting to their new units.  The facility was on the east side of the Chu Lai airfield
near the beach.

Repo Depot June 1970.  Note the steel pallet walkways between buildings and the
pee-tubes for field sanitation.  Compared to the field duty with an infantry battalion that
would begin in a few days, this place was a resort by the sea--provided you paid no
attention to the stench of burning s--- in the field latrines, or the occasional incoming
rocket that might interrupt your welcome to Viet Nam.

Repo Depot June 1970.  Note the bunker between the hootches that is made out of
culvert sections covered with sandbags.  The area was subjected to frequent rocket
attacks by the Viet Cong, although their primary target may have been the airfield.
In any event, they were not choosy about the targets that their rockets fired from
several miles away might hit.  Welcome to Viet Nam--you had only been there a few
days and the enemy was trying to kill you before you had been issued your weapon.

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