westerby wrote:Was there an airfield at Udorn before the Americans turned up or was it built by the US?
wikipedia wrote:The province is most famous for the archeological site Ban Chiang with its remains of the Bronze age, located in what is now a hamlet about 85 miles east of Udon. Udon is one of the more bustling markets for agricultural goods in the relatively dry northeast of Thailand, and received its biggest economic boost in the 1960s when the US built the Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base as a joint-force military base during the Vietnam War. (the Mel Gibson film Air America refers to Udon and includes shots from the Udon military base.) Udon Thani was also the largest base in the region for CIA's anti-communism campaign.
The U.S. turned the base over to the Thai military in 1976, but there were three significant after effects of the base's US presence. First, a number of the natives in the area were paid well and learned English, which helped them become more marketable to the outside world (a significant percentage of the more educated group now work in the Middle East oilfields). Second, the base created ties, including a US Consulate in Udon which was closed in 1995, and a VFW (veterans of foreign wars) Post. Finally, the base and the consulate caused the city to be viewed as a regional hub, and this impression has continued.
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