~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
Drug Abuse Treatment/Holding Center (DAHC)
USARV Stockade, Long Binh Post, Bien Hoa Province, III Corps Tactical Zone

This Page Last Updated   1 February 2015
        In 1970 Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) had finally openly recognized the serious problem of widespread heroin abuse among the troops in Vietnam. Throughout the theatre of operations Heroin of almost pure quality was readily available and affordably priced. Soldiers were being sent back to the states with terrible addictions. The deadly cocktail was one part each of: belief in the new counter culture generational mantra of anything goes; mandatory service in a military no longer respected by the youth; service in an unpopular war the government no longer wanted to win; the mix was a perfect soldier ready for reckless risk taking and self destructive behavior through substance abuse.

        In June of 1971 President Richard M. Nixon issued a call for action to counteract the national scope of drug abuse in the United States. MACV responded by initiating a program of urine screening for all soldiers twenty-eight years of age and younger in the Southeast Asian Theater. Mandatory for all troops returning to the states, and random for all other troops in theatre.

        During late 1971 and early 1972, to address the problem the United States Army Republic of Vietnam Headquarters (USARV) hastened the opening and activation of two in-country Drug Treatment Centers (DTC).

       The DTC's were situated at Can Ranh Bay, II Corps Tactical Zone, and Long Binh Post, III Corps Tactical Zone. The medical support was provided by the 44th Medical Brigade and in III Corps at Long Binh Post by the 24th Evacuation Hospital. In their haste the military initiated the operation of the DTC's as standard medical treatment facilities.

     Their intended goal was to identify and detoxify all soldiers suffering from Heroin addiction identified through the urine screening program. The problem was the medical facilities were not ready, due to inexperienced- councilors, general medical staff, and facilities unsuitable to handle the influx of "physically abusive and physically dependent patients."
      MACV's first error was to assume that the DTC's could operate as routine medical facilities. The addicted soldiers immediately became uncooperative, belligerent, self destructive, and in some cases violent towards the inexperienced medical staff. To remedy the situation MACV quickly opened a third facility, a Drug Abuse Holding Center (DAHC) or officially known as the United States Army Drug Abuse Holding Center Vietnam (USADAHCV). It was set up at the USARV Stockade on Long Binh Post. At the DAHC soldiers who through their Heroin addiction demonstrated threatening behavior were held in a more secure confinement setting during their detoxification period.

     Security staffing of the facilities with improperly trained military police also posed a major problem. The MP Corps in Vietnam severely lacked the needed number of personnel trained as MOS 95C - Correction Specialist.

     The temporary fix was to pull 720th MP Battalion line duty MPs trained as MOS 95B - Military Policeman, from field units and assign them to the facilities creating major disruptions in the ability for their parent units to staff their primary missions.

      In 1971 to address the problem at DHAC, the 18th MP Brigade reassigned the 300th MP Company (95th MP Battalion) from line duty to correction duty at the DAHC.

        Service at the USADAHCV and DTC's also exposed another embarrassing secret, MPs often had to guard their former fellow MPs who were caught up in the addiction problem and ended their tours at the facilities.
WANTED: Interviews, information, stories and photographs of the DAHC regardless of MOS or unit If you worked or were a patient at the facilities, please use the Email Link at the top right of this page to notify the History Project Manager.
44th Medical
24th Evac.
18th MP
89th MP
720th MP
95h MP

7 July Twenty enlisted military police personnel from the 720th MP Battalion were reassigned to duties at the United States Army Republic Of Vietnam (USARV) Installation Stockade (LBJ) and the Drug Abuse Holding Center (DAHC) on Long Binh Post.

18 August The 18th MP Brigade recalled all Agent XM32 dispersers from the 720th MP Battalion and reassigned them to the 95th MP Battalion and the Long Binh Post Drug Abuse Treatment/Holding Center. The 720th had trained in the use of and maintained the dispersers since May.

22 August The 720th MP Battalion was required to provide forty enlisted men and one officer in support of the Drug Abuse Treatment/Holding Center (DAHC) pending redeployment of the 300th MP Company from Chu Lai to the 95th MP Battalion on Long Binh Post.

        Considerable difficulty was experienced in providing this number of personnel and continuing the normal Battalion mission. Discipline, law and order patrol activities were curtailed at Phu Loi, Vung Tau, Tay Ninh, Xuan Loc, and Bearcat Detachments. The Battalion convoy escort missions were also curtailed.

Reflection  "I started my tour in Can Tho [IV Corps Tactical Zone] in February of 1971. A few months into my tour Jerry Davis and I were sent to Long Binh Post, [III Corps] TDY [Temporary Duty] to work as security guards at the new Drug Detoxification compound. Since B Company was headquartered in the Mekong Delta and didn't have any barracks on Long Binh Post we stayed with A Company.

     The detachment was made up of MPs from all three companies. The 720th was always short handed, it's amazing what we did with so few people. Some time in mid 1971 the Army started giving everyone a urine test for drugs before you could return home. Anyone who tested positive was sent to this compound to dry out. They pretty much cold turkey these guys.

        At the compound we manned guard shacks 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the perimeter of the compound. we had a platoon sergeant from C company, a SFC or SSG. I thought his name was Harley, an older white male, I don't see his name on the roster though.

        We had MP's assigned to standing watch in the mess lines insuring that only food was transferred to plates. I guess the drugs could have been buried in the food, but how would you know? We also watched the water truck driver to make sure he wasn't leaving anything behind.

        We did find some heroin in a couple shake downs in the compound. We knew they weren't bringing it in because we strip searched every one of them and they didn't get their clothes back. They would hide it in the latrines on top of the walls or rafters. They were smart enough to not keep it on themselves. We never did find out for sure who was bringing it in. The food was catered in from another mess hall so it was either the guys that brought the food or the guy that delivered water for the showers. Those were the only outsiders allowed in the compound.

        Once the withdrawals were over we would transport them down to Tan Son Nhut Airfield and fly them in a an Army Caribou up to Cam Ranh Bay and transfer them over to another MP Company.

        During the flight they were in custody status but not shackled or hand cuffed. This was the last leg of going home for them so they weren't going to try and escape. Escape to where anyway. The number of MP's on the detail would vary as to how many prisoners we were transporting.

        I'm also sure the hospital there was much better than where they had just been. I think they got some treatment at Cam Ranh Bay before going home.

        During the turn around the MP's would get to eat at the Air Force mess hall for lunch. It was unbelievable food, the hot stuff was hot and the cold stuff was cold. The escorts would fly back that afternoon, there were no overnighters.

        The flying was the best part of the whole assignment, we got to see the country from the air and it was beautiful. Thankfully this assignment didn't last too long. While we were in Long Binh Post we learned about C Company and that their only assignment was running convoy escorts. Jerry and I put in for a transfer to C Company once our temporary assignment was finished and we returned to duty in Can Tho."  SP/4 Richard J. Bosmans, B & C Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, April 1971 to January 1972.

SP/4 Bosmans
Reflection  "When I was with B Company, 720th MP Battalion, we ran several types of V100 patrols. Escorts to Vung Tau, for R & R, VIP escorts, for dignitaries, and believe it or not, DETOX escorts from Long Binh [USARV Stockade] to Saigon ( guess they thought the drug users would go AWOL). This is not to include our normal escorts out of the [Mekong] Delta.

    The DETOX/Jail was probably the worst duty. The DETOX center was co-operated by LBJ [Long Binh Jail]. Half were for the prisoners, and each platoon rotated these duties. The GI's would come in so high, that their unit that transported them, sometimes had them chained, believe it or not.

     Most were housed in open bay type Quonset huts, but the worst were held in converted CONEX containers, so they could not endanger themselves or others. Seemed like cruel, and inhumane, but you should have seen some of them.

     I know of a lot of MPs from B Company that transferred out as door gunners, and even grunts, to surpass the duties of LBJ. In essence, every four weeks we had LBJ duties."   SGT Philip P. Barbian, B Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, March 1970 to May 1971.

Reflection  "I was stationed in Long Binh Post at the 24th Evacuation Hospital when the 93rd Evacuation Hospital stood-down on 15 April 1971, and was converted to a detox unit.

     I worked the 1900 to 0700 hour [7pm to 7am] shift and remember going with the ambulance over to there to pick up ill soldiers and moving them to the 24th. I believe a number of them had to do with being severely constipated due to heroin, (If I remember correctly). Not a pleasant site."  SP/4 Mick Mahoney, 24th Evacuation Hospital, 44th Medical Brigade, Long Binh Post, January 1971 to January 1972.

Reflection  "I purchased a copy of the "Senior Officer Debriefing Report" written by Major General (Retired) Paul Timmerberg who was the Commander of the 18th MP Brigade & Provost Marshal in Vietnam in 1971. Timmerberg wrote that there was a severe lack of qualified and trained MOS 95C (Confinement) Military Police available, so MOS 95B's were assigned to correctional duties and that was the "single biggest problem in connection with the operation of the stockades in country." His report clearly indicated that moving an MOS 95B company like the 300th into a correctional detail was a mistake and recommended in his report that it not be attempted again.

      Our guys did not adjust to it very well. After a few months of DAHC duty, 12 hours per day for 30 straight days without a day off, it would break us down physically, mentally and emotionally.

     With the stress we were placed under by providing security at the DAHC, a few trouble makers among the mob got "attitude adjustments" from the Military Police during their stay at the DAHC center... we let them know that we just wanted to do our part to help them with their rehabilitation and to shorten their stay in stateside incarceration. However, most of the GI's who went through the DAHC were too sick to cause trouble and were truly strung out on the drugs.  It was the saddest scene any person would ever want to endure or witness; but worse, they were our own guys - not the enemy!

      I finally got an opportunity to drive for SMG Donald Tomooka & LTC Robert Ciolek (95th MP Battalion). I also sub'ed as a driver for COL Hiram "Thor" Daniels, Commanding Officer of the 89th MP Group. However, had to go back to the DAHC when they were base-bound.

     I was with the 300th MP Company that was deployed to Long Binh to provide security at the US Army Drug Abuse Holding Center. Prior to that, we were with the 23rd Infantry Division "Americal" based out of Chu Lai. We worked various assignments in I Corps including line duty, escort, patrol, CID support, etc. Probably more dangerous work, but we had a lot of freedom to operate within our assigned duty areas up north once we were on the road. Being transferred to USADAHC was the worst duty we could have received. It was like we were incarcerated at the DAHC rather than the "patients" we had to guard. Any one of us would have taken any assignment to get transferred out of that damned place!"  SP/4 Ronald W. Denbow, 300th MP Company, 95th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, July 1971-March 1972.

SP/4 Denbow

December  USADAHCV had "processed" more than 700 GI's through the facility.  The processing time and each soldiers medical treatment procedures at the facility varied but mostly ranged from 2-4 weeks before the patient was cleared for transport out of Vietnam.

     Of course, those under criminal charges who were also on drugs took longer.  Most were transported to a detention facility in the U.S. for further processing and evaluation -  many were sent from Long Binh to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) a maximum security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 


Reflection  "Yes, I do remember that there was a detox unit over in LBJ [Long Binh USARV Stockade]. I went over there one time to deliver a prisoner, and ran into a guy I knew from school who was working the jail. He showed me around and I specifically recall seeing that section. It was not a place I would want to spend more than 15 seconds! At the time I was in-country there was a horrible heroin problem around Long Binh, and there were quite a few guys in the 720th who were using.

     One sad event I vividly recall was when I was driving in a really remote area on post and saw a young GI stumbling down the side of the road.

     By the time I got to him he had collapsed and was totally incoherent. I loaded him into the jeep and drove him to the 24th Evacuation Hospital. He was unconscious by the time I got him there. It turns out he had quite a history and this was not his first time doing this. He had somehow gotten out of detox. (or was released...I don't know) but had immediately gone out and overdosed.

     As can be typical in these cases, these guys will establish a habit and build a high tolerance to the drug. When they get through detox, they will go out and retake the same levels they were previously used to which can be fatal. Also, some of the stuff over there was so pure that even small amounts could be deadly. From what I was told later (but do not know as fact), they were not able to revive this young man from this overdose".  SP/4 Mel Cheney, 212th MP Company (Sentry Dog) & HQ Detachment, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, February to August 1972.

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