Capital of the province of the same name, Quang Tri was about 20 kilometers south of the DMZ, along the east bank of the Thach Han River. The city, which was the largest of the province, developed into a major communication and logistics center during the war. It was situated on the national coastal highway, Highway 1, squeezed between provincial roads 560 on the west and 555 on the east. The road network, north-south and east-west corridors, passed through Quang Tri. Square-shaped with a citadel, Quang Tri City stood like a miniature of Hue, the old imperial capital. More important, Quang Tri was located only 45 miles north of Hue. Quang Tri was built on the coastal plain, and thus vulnerable to attack from all directions. Despite the presence of U.S. Marine and Army units in I Corps Tactical Zone (I CTZ), the defense of the small city lay in the hands of the ARVN 1st Division.

The 1st Division had operated around Hue since the unit's establishment. Many Americans considered it the best division in the ARVN. Like the heavy armor divisions of the U.S. Army during World War II, the ARVN 1st Division was an exception to the standard military organization. Each regiment had four battalions instead of the standard three.

Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Lam, a quality officer and a veteran, was the commanding general of I Corps. The Quang Tri province chief, Lt. Col. Nguyen Am, had formerly been commander of the ARVN 1st Infantry Regiment, which was stationed at Quang Tri.

Quang Trí, city in central Vietnam, the major city of Quang Trí Province. Quang Trí lies near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an area that separated North and South Vietnam after Vietnam was partitioned at the end of the First Indochina War in 1954. The DMZ was intended to be an area free of arms. However, during the ensuing Vietnam War (1959-1975), the area around the DMZ was so thoroughly devastated by fighting that the city still bears the effects. The people of Quang Trí are poor, in large part because many farmers cannot use their land for fear of uncleared land mines. The farming that does exist is almost wholly for subsistence. Much of the surrounding land was deforested during the war by carpet bombing and chemical agents; these chemicals have caused a sharp decline in soil fertility. In addition, many people suffer from war-related injuries and postwar injuries caused by exploding mines. De-mining and reforestation programs, undertaken by local and overseas volunteers, are underway. The city is located on one of Vietnam's main north-south highways and is served by buses. Few historical sites remain in Quang Trí, but a moat, rampart, and gates from The Citadel that once dominated the city still exist. During the Vietnam War Quang Tri was the site of several fierce battles, in particular the Easter Offensive of 1972. After North Vietnamese troops took the area, the Province was bombed daily by as many as 40 US bombers, each carrying several tons of bombs. South Vietnamese forces eventually regained the city but lost at least 5000 troops in the process. 

Quang Tri Province was the scene of some of the fiercest ground fighting of the American war, especially from 1966 to the end of the war in 1975, and it was subjected to the heaviest bombing campaign in the history of the world, more than the amount of ordnance used in Europe during World War II. At the war’s end in 1975, the entire province was devastated, and most of the population had evacuated. Quang Tri Town, at that time the Province capital and Dong Ha Town were both destroyed. Not a single building remained standing or useable. Of 3,500 villages scattered throughout the province, only 11 remained at the end of the war. The intense bombing, combined with U.S. use of the Agent Orange defoliant, turned the land into a virtual moonscape with only a fraction of the original triple canopy jungle forest remaining after the war.

American and South Vietnamese military units established bases and outposts all over the Province and along the DMZ. Some of the famous battle sites stretching from the seacoast to the mountains bordering Laos included Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Dong Ha Mt., FSB Fuller, LZ Russell, FSB Neville, Hill 126, LZ Vandegrift "Stud",  Cam Lo Bridge, Cam Lo Village, Gio Linh, Camp Carroll,  the Rockpile, the Razor Back, Mutter Ridge, Helicopter Valley, Da Krong Bridge,  Khe Sanh,  Hill 881N and 881S, Lang Vei, Con Thien , the DMZ and the Ben Hai River. The perimeters of many of the military bases were heavily mined. Bombing and shelling from ships at sea, which went on sometimes for 24 hours a day, resulted in tons of explosive ordnance being rained down on the Province. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that about 10 percent of ordnance does not detonate as designed, meaning that much of the dangerous and unstable munitions still lie just under the surface or buried deep in the earth throughout Quang Tri Province to this present day.