The Army Security Agency, operating under cover of the 3rd Radio Research Unit (3rd RRU), established a radio facility at Phu Bai in 1963, 12 km southeast of Huế on Highway 1. The operational unit was later redesignated as the 8th Radio Research Field Station (8th RRFS).
In 1965, the U.S. Marine Corps established a base across Highway 1 from the 3rd RRU facility.
In late 1965, The 3rd Marine Division established its headquarters at Phu Bai and would remain there until late 1967, when it was moved forward to Đông Hà.
In late November 1967, the base was named Camp Hochmuth in honor of Bruno Hochmuth, Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division, who was killed in a helicopter explosion north of Huế.
In June or July 1968, U.S. Special Forces established Forward Operating Base 1 (FOB 1) at Phu Bai. The base remained in use until early 1969.
Marine units based at Phu Bai during this period included:2nd Battalion 1st Marines
2nd Battalion 3rd Marines
2nd Battalion 4th Marines
3rd Battalion 4th Marines
4th Battalion 12th Marines
HMM-161 (May 1965-January 1966, June–November 1966)
HMM-163 (January–April 1966, October 1966-July 1967)
HMM-164 (July–November 1967)
HMM-362 (August–November 1967)
VMO-3 (January 1967 – 1969)
Marine Aircraft Group 36 (November 1967-October 1969)
HMM-164 (December 1967-February 1968, June–November 1968)
HMM-165 (December 1967-January 1968, March 1968)
HMM-263 (November 1967)
HMM-265 (January–May 1969)
HMM-362 (December 1967-May 1968, October–November 1968)
HMM-363 (June–September 1968)
HMM-364 (November 1967-November 1968)
HML-367 (December 1967-October 1969)
HMM-462 (August 1968-October 1969)
VMO-6 (October–November 1967)
On 30/31 January 1968, the base was hit by Vietcong mortar and rocket fire as part of the Tet Offensive. The base was used to support U.S. and ARVN forces fighting in the Battle of Huế. The first relief force was disapatched from Phu Bai to the MACV Compound in Huế City.
On 15 February 1968, General Creighton Abrams established MACV Forward at Phu Bai to assume direct control of US forces in northern I Corps, which were then engaged in the Battle of Huế, the Battle of Khe Sanh, and the Tet Counteroffensive. MACV Forward ceased operation on 10 March 1968.
In 1969, the 85th Evacuation Hospital moved from Qui Nhơn and was established at the northwest end of the airfield, adjacent to Highway 1.
In 1969, the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division was moved to Phu Bai.
Units based at Phu Bai during this period included:220th Aviation Company
HMM-161 (October 1969-September 1970)
The ARVN operated Phu Bai as a forward logistics base, and it was the only airport serving Huế.
In September 1974, after pushing the ARVN defenders off Mo Tau Mountain, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) targeted artillery fire against the base until they were evicted by the ARVN 1st Division and 15th Ranger Group on 11 December.
From 5 March 1975, the PAVN shelled the base as part of the Hue–Da Nang Campaign. Nonetheless, the base continued to be used for aerial reinforcement of the ARVN, until it was overrun by the NVA on 23/24 March 1975.
The airfield is now used as Phu Bai International Airport.Gustav Hasford wrote about his experiences in and around Phu Bai in 1968, in his semi-autobiographical novels The Short-Timers (1979) and The Phantom Blooper (1990).
In the film Full Metal Jacket (1987), based mainly on The Short-Timers and in part on The Phantom Blooper, two combat journalists for Stars and Stripes, Joker and Rafterman, are sent to Phu Bai, where they cover as well as participate in the action there, and in Hue, in January 1968.