Brown Water Navy in Vietnam

PTF (Fast Patrol Boat "Nasty" Class), PG (Ashville Class Patrol Gunboat), and PBR (River Patrol Boat) (Sketch by John Charles Roach, NHHC L-File)

2012 marks the beginning of commemorations for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration has launched a website ( which has information on the anniversary, and on the war itself. The website is a work in progress, and features an expansive interactive timeline of the war, featuring images and reference material. The Naval Historical Foundation will also be taking steps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We are planning a major announcement soon on new Vietnam exhibit construction at the Cold War Gallery. We’re also planning to do a series of stories throughout the year on the Navy’s role in the war, and we want to begin the series with a number of stories on the “Brown Water Navy.”

Late last year, we heard from a number of our NHF Members about the History Channel’s 2011 documentary Vietnam in HD. These Members, veterans of the war, were concerned that the documentary did not provide adequate coverage of the Brown Water Navy. During the War, sailors of the U.S. Navy braved over 3,000 nautical miles of perilous rivers and canals threading the landscape of Vietnam. The River Patrol Force was established on 18 December 1965, and for the remaining years of the war, Navy patrol boats were a common sight on the waters of Vietnam. Their mission was broad and covered a number of contingencies. The infrastructure of Vietnam was devoid of superhighways and sophisticated rail systems, thus waterways served as a primary means of transportation. Control of the waterways was crucial. The primary mission of the River Patrol Force was to intercept and interdict Communist supplies being smuggled from the North. Additionally, they delivered and supported land forces (including Navy SEALs) and engaged North Vietnamese forces ashore with onboard weaponry.

The sailors who served in the Brown Water Navy endured unique forms of hardship and danger. Small craft such as PBR’s (River Patrol Boats, see sketch above) made their way deep into inland waterways, surrounded on both sides by impenetrable jungle. Gunfire could erupt from the dense forests along the shore at any time, often from cleverly concealed enemy positions just yards away. These lightly armored patrol boats  were built for speed, and offered little protection to their crews. Vietnamese sampans and small craft were intercepted on a daily basis and search for contraband materials – always a tense and potentially dangerous situation.

Sailors of the Brown Water Navy also battled the natural environment of Vietnam, enduring punishing heat and pounding monsoons. They contended with shallow, narrow waterways, whose constantly changing waters overflowed and flooded during the monsoon season. And of course, like all who serve, they spent many a lonely day, thinking about a home on the other side of the world.

To whet your appetite on the topic, we’d like to begin with this 30 minute documentary, “River Patrol.”  This  1967 U.S. Navy documentary gives a sense of the hardships endured by sailors of the Brown Water Navy. It follows  PBR’s and UH-1B Seawolf helicopters operating from USS Harnett County (LST 821) in the area of the Co Chien River.


We’re working closely with several of the veterans of the Brown Water Navy, and plan to highlight different aspects of their experiences throughout the year. Stay tuned for more stories in the months to come. In the meantime, please visit the Virtual Exhibit we’ve posted online at, entitled Vietnam War Afloat and Ashore.

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111 Responses to Brown Water Navy in Vietnam

  1. Robert J malinovsky says:

    In Jan/Feb 1964, SEAL Team One and UDT Team 13 were attached to MAACV (later it was MAC) they were part of “black ops Studies and Observation Group (original SOG). Two old, wooden, Captains Gigs were obtained from the USS Weiss, a barge that served as dock and housing for team one and certain MACVSOG members was fixed in the Saigon River. These two boats were fitted with hand mounted 50 cal machine guns and deployed throughout the Delta to insert/extract recon teams. self designated “River Assault Team One (RAT1) mostly referred to as “floating coffins”. I think if you are going to talk about the history of the Brown Water Navy….this piece needs to be mentioned some how. Black Ops was sensitive, few records or written history exists or is denied. My guess though is that if you were to search out the ship logs of the USS Weiss you may see log entries to validate this…I am interested in accurate reporting (where it is possible) so to me the BW Navy was born in 1964 not 1967…just sayin’……..I also do not want to be contacted about this further…check it out you’ll see

  2. i am thoroughly disgusted with your portrayal of your version of the brown water navy. there is no mention of the sailors who served on tango boats or the squadrons that they served in . for instance squadron 91,92,31,32,etc. i was a boat captain in t-132-4. we inserted and retracted army all over the delta. among other things my boat could accomplish was to land dust offs in the middle of firefights to dust off wounded. my boat was constantly in the canals patrolling and setting ambushes. myboat spent more time in the bush than , the grunts that we supported. i and my crew was in nam from april 15 69until april 15 70. i now know what it feels like to be a bastard step child unwanted and neglected

    • admin says:

      We’re truly sorry you feel that way. The aim was not to offend anyone, or to belittle the brave service of Vietnam veterans. Would you be interested in collaborating with us on a story to talk more about the experience of tango boat sailors? We have have access to Vietnam photography that could be used to accompany the story. Please do let us know if you might be interested, we welcome your input. We’ve collaborated with other Vietnam veterans on stories, and we’d be pleased to do so with you. And again, our apologies that the story upset you.

      • My wife’s cousin Terry D Mason was Kia on 9/1969 serving as a Navy radio man on TF-117-22 13 squadron wanted to know if any one knew him ?

        • withheld says:

          Please do not release my name. However Ed served with Terri on the same boat. Knew each other very well…very well.

        • william reddan says:

          i knew terry mason from having worked on the radios of his boat tango 22. They had been in dong tam for overhaul and were ready to pull out the next day when he was on watch at night and got hit with an incoming. I remember him because he was such a good natured happy guy and after all these years it still bothers me that he had to get it like he did. dong tam got hit almost everyday but that night only one round came in and i remember it because i was standing watch on my repair barge on the pier next to his boat. i know they tried hard to save him but he got hit bad. Just remember us old sailors remeber those guys that didnt make it back even after all these years

          • James Lake says:

            Thank you Mr.Redden,
            I am James wife I was five years old when he was killed I remember it like it was yesterday.we heard his body was pretty bad.I am close with one of his brothers.thank you for your service

  3. Jake M. Wolfe says:

    Radarman 3rd Class USS Hunterdon County LST 838 CIC (September 1968 – August 1969). Worked closely with the River Divisions and Seawolf Units that were assigned in rotation to Hunterdon County primarily on the Bassac during this period, sometimes priviledged to work with the boats on patrol with the PRC-10 strapped on – Ti-Ti Canals only – of course – flashback=(Humdrum – Humdrum this is Cobra 5 – our patrol firing on hostiles XR 293 764 how copy over?) -yep -I was “that guy”. Thank you so much for the Video – I’m still shivering from goosebumps and flashbacks. 44 years ago – How quickly it passes!

    • Ed Turnbull RD 2 says:

      Apparently you replaced me on the Hunterdon County. I left it a day or so before it was hit. Do you know if any radarman were wounded?

      • Ken Delfino says:

        I was with RivDiv 533, boat captain of PBR 151 attached to the Hunterdon when I was medevaced on 26JUL1968. Ran into Captain Fred several years later in CA. You had to have been on ship’s crew when I we were attached to you. Glad you made it back!

  4. waylon walton says:

    my father served on tango 91 -13 from sept 67 through 68 . i never read anything about the tangos either . while i understand the glamour of other units and boats , the tangos were very important to the delta front . ps hope my pops doesnt see this because he doesnt care about recognition , he cares only about the fact that he did his job and just wishes friends he had were still alive and with their familys

  5. kenneth gamble em2 says:

    served aboard lst762 operation market time in support of ten wpb and game warden

  6. david sizemore says:

    was on yfbn 17 jan -june 1967 also at long exyen angian provence

  7. Jack Barwick says:

    I agree with Mr Siebern concerning the portrayal of the “Brown Water” navy in Vietnam. I served in River Division 112 and was in the Long An province engagement when Chief Bannister was killed as the B40 rocket hit the coxswains flat. The PBR guys are due all the credit they receive, however, they now wear the same Vietnam Craft Combat Crewman as we do. I guess we can continue to eat the crumbs that fall from the masters (Naval Historical Foundation) table.

  8. Bill Potter says:

    i was on r-1 on the grand canal up by Cambodia Dec. of 69 to Oct 70 riv ron 13 and 15
    i lost a lot of good friends on stab and alpha boats. yes we had pbr, tango, stabs and monitor,
    the brown water navy was not only pbr boats

    • Ron Stockbauer says:

      Wow 44 years ago today I left Travis…I served at first on a Alpha boat at Song Ong Doc…later on a Tango boat on the Grand Canal…
      ..spend some time(repairs) in Dong Tam. The last several months after our boat were turned over to the Vietnam navy, was in Binh Thuy…anyone get to spend some pre or post R&R time at the Hotel President in Saigon?

      • Dave Pratt says:

        Dong Tam sent to Song Ong Doc 1970

        Ring any Bell.

        • Richard Lindner says:

          I was on the Cleveland that moved that RivDiv to Song On Doc. Later, when in-country at Moc Hua, received one of the survivors. Looked through everything, but no photos of that move.

        • Patt shelley says:

          Hey I served with you at sod until you went home. I am Patt shelley bm3.

          • Richard Lindner says:

            Terrible with names. I was at Moc Hua from May 1970 to March 1971. My email is:

          • Paul C. Daiute says:

            I think I served with you at SOD Oct 1970 am I remembering right? Do you remember Pip, Davis, and Porky. I replaced Doc Beaver for awhile then came back to relieve Doc Barker and stayed until end of May. I was part of the crew when the base was towed up river. I ended up at the old French outpost at Ca Mau where we got hit again with rockets. I was there the night they brought in the five burned babies. That was the night the Army boat took rocket hits and they brought the crew member to me that had the femoral artery severed, he had bled out before I could get to him. Porky burned out a 50 ca. barrel that night. We had to shoot down our own parachute flares that the wind blew and held over our position. Chief Patanaud was the CNCO for the base then.
            Bac Xe Daiute, Sin Loi

        • Paul C. Daiute HM3 says:

          Did you know me at Song Ong Doc? I was one of the corpsmen stationed there in 1970, I was there Oct to may.
          Doc Daiute

          • ralph [doug ] robertson says:

            Hay doc IT’s porky[don’t go by that name now days] Doug Robertson ,glad to see you made it out alive ,hope your doing well.

    • Richard Lindner says:

      I have a few pictures of “heavies,” the Grand Canal, and Ap Bac village.
      Do not see paper clip so do not know how to add them.

  9. Bill Potter says:

    see above info

    • Joseph P.Thomas says:

      Seeking any information on my uncle, Joseph E.Kuhn, USN He served in the brown river navy. He was there 1967,68,69. He passed away 9 years ago. I am not sure which unit he served in. Two tours were in the delta, and one up north. thank you if anyone remember him.

      • Bud Wilson says:

        Note : His DD214 paper will tell you everything you want to know. Also what river sec or riv div was he in during this time.
        Look up TF116 Gamewardens / Vietnam will get you on the
        right trail

      • jim says:

        Hi..i was in river section 535 in 67/68 stationed at Binh Thuy in the delta..I do not remember that name,but if you get back to me i just might know the person that would have known him..

  10. Wade Knapp says:

    Please don’t forget the LCVP’s either. My father drove these from the USS Point Defiance, LSD 31 from ’67-’68 and spent considerable time up the rivers inserting and retrieving SEAL teams and Marines, as well as patrolling the rivers. Those guys drove antiquated un-armored boats with very small 3 man crews doing the same things as the faster boats, yet you never hear their story. He too seeks no recognition, but I’d like to see him and the other LCVP drivers get a little.

    • Nancy Graham says:

      Sounds like what my husband did. Hand gun and M14 were all they carried in their 19 foot Boston Whaler. You never hear these stories.

  11. Joe Criscione says:

    I liked the collection of information for Brownwater Navy but was disappointed in the coverage of LCU, YFU operations in I corp. There was also many LCM8’s and 6 boats that ran the Cua Viet River from Cua Viet to Dong Ha with supplies and mine sweeper operations in the mornings. Myself being on LCU 1499 was one of many boats making supply runs all over I corp. The LCU’s were largely responsible for most of the supplies brought up river in Hue, Dong Ha, Chu Lai and Sa Huynh. I had a movie camera on the 1499 and took movies of the river and boats. Also have many photos if you are interested. I know there is a lot to tell and much information to cover with such a subject but the boats of I corp were forgotten for their contribution to the war effort. Most attentions was given to the Delta. Thanks for the Brownwater article and what it was in Vietnam.

    • Larry Melvin says:

      I served on mike 8 boat for awhile running ammo&supplys up theCuaViet river and then went to mike6 boat,sweeping for mines.I was their 68&69.

    • Bill Anwander says:

      Joe i was in Dong Ha working the ramp in 68 driving an R.T. You sent me a video some years ago and I lost touch with you. I have watched the video many times with family and I want to thank you again not only for the video, but for running the river bringing us supplies. Also I hardly ever see anything mentioned about the crew that worked the ramps. Thanks again Bill

      • Bob Wise says:

        I was a Hospital Corpsman on the Cua Viet River from mid-March 1968 to mid-June 1968. Mostly was on the Night patrol. Remember the Mini-Tet with fondness.

  12. Lenton Tony Ganey says:

    I was in River Division 592 out of Nha Be in 68 and 69. Life was never going to be the same after that experience. I sure miss those guys I served with, I can still see the smile and grins on their faces, We would lay our C rations on the engine heat exchanger pipes to get a hot meal. We were just doing our duty by being there and hopefully we saved some American lives by our actions.

    • Karen Giammatteo says:

      Hi, did you happen to know my uncle, Donald McCown? He served around that same time and was a First Class in the Navy at the time and also became a Chief while in Nam. I think they may have called him Mac – or Chief McCown – hard to know really. I have heard the stories many times – don’t remember all of them – but he loved his River Division 592. He just passed away a few months ago and I just got done cleaning out his belongings and found several River Division 592 things he kept. He as a real pack rat. I have some real stories about him if you are interested or knew him – let me know. Wishing you all the best and thanks for fighting for us.

      • Lenton Tony Ganey says:

        If he was at Nha Be in 68 or 69 I probably met your uncle. Some of the names are beginning to fade with time. I’m glad he made it back home, I am sorry to hear of his passing. All I kept was my black beret and photographs that I took. My email address is

    • Rowland Hoke says:

      I was with 592 from March 69 to March 70. Served as gunner with Boat Capt Bera
      Rowland Hoke

      • Lenton Tony Ganey says:

        Bera was my boat Captain, Mark Pape was the engineman and Wallace was the Gunners Mate. Do you know if Bera is still around, I’ve talked to Pape but have not heard from Bera or Wallace since 1969. You can email me at Shapeless 71 was our call sign at Nha Be when I left.

  13. Leah Wheeler says:

    My father Ronald Wheeler served as a gunners mate on the brown river. Was in the White Elephant Division. He served from 65 to 70. He was on a boat with Zumwalt III. I am looking for anyone that knew him during that time and possibly served with him. He was one of the boats that went up the river to bring back the downed pilots. Please contact me if you have any information. Thank you in advance for the help. My dad is not doing well health wise and he wants to reconnect with his old shipmates if I can find any that is.

  14. Lillian Simons says:

    Anyone serve onboard USS Bennington 1968-1970. If you remember a crew member by the name of Craig Simons. Please let me know. We are trying to prove he was on river patrol boat off coast of Vietnam. He is now suffering from PTSD, diabetes, lung cancer, cold, turrets, and sleep apnea. We are trying to get comp and benefits for him more than 10% for hearing loss. Please contact asap. Thank you,
    Lillian Simons

  15. Kenneth A Rhodes EN1 USN says:

    I was in Da Nang I corp 1969-1970 YFU 72 I believe we have all been forgotten for the support of the Army Marines there has been way two many years past over 44years and we should all stand up together . After15 yrs in the navy last year nt to ships reunion for the USS Hassayampa was nice seeing old frends

  16. jim remmey says:

    I served in 1/70 to 1/71 riversection 541 in the Mekong Delta,looking for shipmate, who served that time. thank you.

  17. LARRY PINK says:

    None of us really went to war for recognition, I know I didn’t,I wanted to serve and get my pink butt back asap. .No Heros for this old country boy…My pops did that in ww2 fighting in 13 major battles under Patton,

    What gets me is the hard time we as veterans are receiving in applying for agent orange disabilities, I have been told the ship I was on qualified but they cant prove I was on the ship??dd214 useless. Am I a veteran or Vietnam era veteran,. Do I Need boots on ground in Vietnam or not, Its so screwed up the blue water navy thinks they are brown and vice versa, Rules are changed daily to meet the situations and situations.

    All I got to say there is thousands who just gave up on something they earned not deserved,,,Everyone who was given a campaign medal should automatically get medical and dental work free, If nothing else, if nothing else.

    Do you all realize only 30 percent of v veterans are all that’s left alive…I n closing, how can everything in our upper respiratory system be associated with agent orange?/But everything below the waste doesn’t count, where in the hell does everything that had agent orange go, God forbid, have we lost all common sense in our country?
    I have had 7 major operations, died 3 times and being told I had the wrong cancer, COLON, Wrong peripheral neuropathy, and wrong tias and strokes,conjestive hear failure and don’t qualify, because of WHAT EVER THEY WANT TO SAY, It will be over soon, GOD BLESS AMERICA,,20 different diseases

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  19. Luis Arenas says:

    seems to be one forgotten unit that begun duty in the rivers in 1965. that was MINRON-11 Detachment alpha. Wooden boats with crew of 5, which mine swept the rivers with drag chains on the banks of rivers, subjected to all kinds of small arms and rocket fire, plus clay more mines. the unit consisted of one hundred sailors, all rates and one CO. By 1967 we had approx. 26% casualties. The unit was awarded the PUC, NUC, and MUC between 1966 and 1967. WOODEN BOATS, MEN OF IRON.

    • Fred Birchmore says:

      Thanks for running gauntlet interference for us, Luis, but unfortunately the morning sweeps couldn’t clear aside all the trouble. Before I made that Cua Viet-Dong Ha run, 11/67, I and the other three ship-based LCM boat officers were assured by ComPhibronFive that the river would be swept of mines before our little convoy started up, but that floaters and snipers could still be expected. We were admonished to NOT return shore fire unless (1) we could clearly identify the individual, on the riverbank, firing at us and (2) we requested and received specific radio permission to fire a weapon. (the UDT guy’s M-16 + my sidearm. The 50s wouldn’t depress) All I could do without prior authorization was shoot at “floating mines” which would be slipped into the river by “fishermen” right after you guys had swept past with your chains. So what did I do when the black boats hove to upstream across and under my bow and ran lines below and fouled my starboard screw? …I do not officially remember details, except that the radio didn’t seem to be working…..What a hellish river. I had signed up for the bluewater Navy. My cover is off to you and all true brownwaters for your endurance.

      • John Daily says:

        I was boat captain 67- 68 Cua Viet , to Dong Ha . Id was Negotiate 24 was Mortar attack 00:10 June 9th my last patrol just about where the Quang Tre , Dong Ha , Cua Viet rivers meet . My best friend Gerry Miller died in my arms , he was my relief , some say it was Negotiate 23 but was not ! Love you guys be safe . John Daily BM-3

        • Frederick Birchmore says:

          That’s about where they jumped us – came from the north bank just past that island before the Cua Viet curve.

  20. Dave Pratt says:

    BWN->Dong Tam –> Song Ong Doc 70
    AO trying to confirm Boots-O-Gound WTF
    Looking into Payroll “MPC” records possibility
    BM3 Boats

  21. Alan Dahl says:

    NavSupAct Saigon Det CatLo Jul 68 – Feb 70
    ComNavForV (CCOS) Mar 70 – Dec 70

    This was a very important and meaningful life experience. There are many groups that should be included and recognized for their contributions in Nam. This includes all the combat, cargo, and support vessels, air crews, and bases that supported the guys in the field and rivers. Another group that is ignored on many of the sites is the US Coast Guard and their WPBs. Also, many of the Army units were on the water units, deployed with the Riverine forces or hauling supplies and patrolling the rivers/harbors. We were all there to do a job and we did it damn well.

  22. Dave wait says:

    My uncle was in the Navy swift boats in cat-lo Ron g. Wait is doing well,living in washington,state. If anyone recognize the name and what division he may have been in,or maybe even knew him.they took seals in and the cat-local area,if you remember Ron you can mail me if you would like. Thanks for your service !!!
    Dave wait cmc20w.dw@gmail.Com Ron would like to hear from friends that he knew during that time.

  23. Dale (Skip) Pierce says:

    I was a gunners mate with the Cua Viet River patrol. on LCPL,s 1968 & 69 God Bless them all. I will for ever miss them all.

  24. Bob Wise says:

    I was a Hospital Corpsman assigned from NSAH DaNang to the river boats on the Cua Viet River. Patrolled from mouth of river to Dong Ha. I was there from April 68 until July 68. Last part of my tour. Was there during the mini Tet offensive in May of 68, mainly on night patrol. Can’t remember any names but I remember a guy called Red was our gunner. Sure that narrows it down.

    • Dale "Skip" Pierce says:

      Bob I bet we now each other. I would hang out sometime’s at the hospital bunker. I was on the LCPL’s the night crew.

      • Bob Wise says:

        Skip, I got there right after the SeaBees had built a new “home” for the Corpsman. The first night I was there we had a rocket attack. I jumped into a bunker and landed on Queenie. She was their mascot, about a 6 foot long python. Needless to say, I went backwards at a fast pace. Gave the Seabees a good laugh. Were you around for the Mini-Tet in May of 68? Remember the helicopter that crashed right in front our hooch? I called that copter in, they all died. Hard thought for me.


    I, as a Marine tdy to the group/ squadron patroling the Hue’ river in April of 1968. I served as the boats forward observer scout for about three weeks. Would some one tell me what group I served with. thank you

    • MJS says:

      River Division(ex-Section) 521 patrolled the Perfume (Hue) River. Also patrolled Cau Hai bay to the South and Street Without Joy area to the North.
      They were based on PBR Mobile Base 1 just north of Tan My. They started patrol operations the first week of January 1968. You must have replaced Deacon!

  26. Guy Smith says:

    On LCU1614 1969 cruised all the rivers around Da Nang I find it impossible to find information about the river boats. Just a blip here and there.

    • royce timberlake says:

      Could not agree with you more. When you hear,read or see any documentaries on Riverine Forces in VN they are primarily about the PBRs and Swift Boats along with other rivercarft that were involved frequently with combat operations. I served on YFU 57 from 1970 to 1971 out of Nha Be VN. I would have given almost anything to have served on a PBR or Swift boat. At least if you ran into trouble you had speed on your side and Navy Seawolve Hueys on standby for assistance. My boat had a top speed of 11 knots when not carrying a load of supplies up some unknown river. The more weight we carried the slower we sailed. With a heavy load, ammo, food, equipment, replacement troops for fire support- bases or just about anything we could be making a top speed of 5 knots. That’s why we called our kind of boat SMTs (slow moving targets). NO armor,except the pilot house, on the boat. We sailed with the knowledge that if we were to run into a serious ambush we would all be dead. There be no rescue, we could not run.The only choice would have been to fight until you were killed. The VC would take no prisoners. I still have nightmares about the times we almost sank when sailing in open seas, not a good idea when your bow is a 20ft wide landing ramp. Our boat was almost torn to pieces in mildly rough open seas. We required rescue on several assingments. I discovered later, doing research, that the boat I was on was built inn 1943 and had participated in the invasion of Normandy, June 6th 1944. We sailed that old boat from near the Cambodian coast all the way around the southern tip of South VN up to Camh Ran Bay and God knows how many river missions. No one talks about our kind of service and how many YFUs and LCU never made it back from their missions. Just sunk with all hands, usually crews of 9-11 sailors. If you want to go down in the history books you have to have been flashier than the craft we served on, not just plain old workhorses. We should be know as the forgotten sailors.

  27. Tom McDonald says:

    PBR 532 From July 1967 to January 1969

  28. Fred Birchmore says:

    67 and 68. Da Nang, DMZ. I was boat officer on a .30 cal armed LCPL (Captain’s gig rig, USS Fort Marion LSD-22). BGC etc. Captained the LCVP for UDT SUROPS, under shore fire. Took Mike 8s for the gauntlet run up the Cua Viet/Bo Dieu to Dong Ha, extracting 3rd Marines+ artillery on November 16, 1967. Got ambushed at the big bend.That’s the day I still remember, every day and on bad nights.

  29. Ed Hover says:

    After two 11 month tours on Destroyers providing gunfire support from off of Hanoi to Sea Float was transferred to Naval Advisory Group Binh Thuey. Was senior enlisted at IV corps operation center Worked when Ltcdr Graham and Radm Mathews in charge of advisory group Spent time at Rach Soi with Riv Div, flew missions with 82-57th medavac out of Binh Thuey at night Got to meet Duffel bag working Rach SoI area To everyone who was there at any time, you have my highest respect

  30. Michael Gregory says:

    I was an RMSN aboard the YRBM-16 and later the 20from June of 1970 through April of 1971. While we were a support facility and not charged with engaging the enemy were not “in the rear with the gear”. We were anchored 2 kilometers downstream of Cambodia in the Mekong river at Tanh Chau and later at Chau Doc on the Bassac river. We had no on board propulsion system and were unable to maneuver. We were a big fat sitting duck.
    As a radioman my duties were inboard. the rest of my life was as exposed as anyone else and inboard was not a safe place to be if the barge got mined. YRBMs seem forgotten.

  31. Kent Seifarth says:

    NSAs are largely represented as “in the rear with the gear”. I spent the last eleven months of my enlistment at NSA Chu lai I Corp. I was a BM3 assigned to the boat division, which was made up of 3 LCM 6s converted to service pusher boats, used in landing LSTs at the ramp. One LCM8 which was use at the base as a water taxi for the Marine track group on the island that bordered one side of the harbor. When they were replaced by the Americal division the duty continued, as well as with the ARVN when they took over the fire base on the island. The 8 boat was also detached for a number of off base dutys. The main “harbor” security force were 3 MK5 radar picket boats which were armed with twin 50s amidship, and at times with an unmounted m60. A converted LCVP with a single 30. A sclmmer with post mount for a 60. The crews on each of these boats were switched on a rotational basis, sometimes staying together sometimes not. Every one got they’re turn on different boats. While Chu Lai was considered relatively secure, each of these duty assignments had their hazards. Being stuck between two LSTs on a 6 boat, while under a rocket attack without being able to take any kind of cover was cause for some strong rectal contractions. The eight boat came under fire on operations away from Chu Lai. The MK 5s and LCVP patrolled the harbor and lower Trulong river, made boat stops boardings, and searches, delt with sappers, mines, and the rare shot from the shore. This was a daily/nightly job that most of the boat division lived with. I also did a blue water tour on the USS Sproston DD 577 a can out of pearl. I know the U.S.N. Did its part in many ways that will never be told

  32. diane center says:

    in loving memory of my husband, johnny ray center who served his country in vietnam1963. a fine man in service to his fellow man and his country. rip.

  33. david davis says:

    I was a BM3 on the Uss Cabildo LSD 16 in the years of 1968 and 1969. I was a fifty Caliber machine gun specialist. We were in volved in rescue missions and and transporting PBR’s and other land and water vessels. We were hit on The Bausic River. We stored body bags on our flight deck and in our freezers.

  34. Ron Roe says:

    I was with River Section 522 at Ben Tra our boats 62 and 64 were ambushed in a canal near Ben Tra.Lot of time has gone buy since that day Oct. 25,1967.The rest of my Navy days spent hospitals.Not all were that lucky and one does not forget
    those faces of good friends.

  35. Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and
    I am waiting for your further post thank you once again.

  36. kenneth simons says:

    Trying to find information on seal team ambushed in 1970 near district town kien binh . I was at kien binh with army engineers and myself and a specialist 6 medic recovered a boston whaler and five navy seals all killed. I would appreciate info. as to names and rank of those seals. The action was in the stars and strips, any next of kin or person with direct knowledge, any and all info. would be appreciated.

  37. I was in country 1970 Danang on repair barge we repaired pcfs and pbrs. Then we moved to Cat Lo. Can any one tell me the name or number of this unit?

  38. roy tierce says:

    servered with river boat section 543 on cuaviet river in i corp 67 and 68. try to located bm1 willie frey. we ran lead boat cover boat duty on so many patrols. i was first man abd lcu 62 when she was sunk at mouth of cua viet. all crew was dead except one man. his leg was severed above knee. applied tournequit and put on med evac. hope he msade it.

  39. Fred Feinhandler says:

    i was stationed on jc lst 846. we based out vung tau. we were mothrtship to the pbr.i was with here from n0vember 66 to june 67. we also two sea wolf uh-1bs for addition fire support.

  40. Rick Boutcher says:

    I served as RM3 on board Alpha Boat A-91-3 assigned to MRF River Division 91 from Aug 1968 to Dec 1969. Boat Captain was BM2 Jeff Chandlier, 50 gunner was GM3 Roger Hillard, 20 mm gunner was GM3 Willie Brown, Engineman was EM3 Duke Hamilton and we had a EM striker we called PC (Pecker Checker) as he had dropped out of Corpsman school. A-91-3 was turned over to the South Vietnamese in December of 1969 as part of the Vietmanization Program.

    I was given orders to the USS Chevalier DD805 out of San Diego. Wow want to talk about being the black sheep of the family and totally ostracized. Was not received well at all and after the Captain of the Chevalier (Cdr Greenwalgh) had to call his crew to quarters to give medals, citations and ribbons that had followed me from the MRF that had to do with my conduct and professionalism under enemy fire during point blank fire fights on the river, I was called to Captain Greewalgh ‘s cabin where he told me he was not very happy about having to call his crew to quarters to award medals and such to someone who was not really part of his crew. He wanted to know if there were anymore following. I told him I did not know. But when the Naval Unit Citation and Presidential Unit Citation arrived he called me to his cabin and just handed them to me and sent me on my way. I spent my last 5 months of my four year hitch in the Navy on board the USS Chevalier and man it was horrible. When I was offered a $10,000 dollar bonus to ship over along with advancement to E5 I politely told the XO what he could do with it and took the three month early out which was based upon my two tours in Nam. I have a friend Jerry Weston who the Radioman on A-91-7 and he had similar experiences on the Destroyer he was ordered to after the MRF. Was wondering how many other Mobile Riverine Force River Rats were treated the same way.

  41. Pingback: Pete McCloskey, Marine war hero featured in "Leading from the Front," shares stories with fellow vets | St George News

  42. Richard Lindner says:

    After my DEROS I was aboard the USS Hooper out of Long Beach. The crew was put together to award me something. Afterwards I filled out a “chit” for BUPERS to send further stuff to my home address. I do not know what I have nor how many many, I was not a hero like they are today. I was treated well by the crew. My problems occurred afterwards as a civilian. I was told I could not register to finish my last year at MSU. (You are a dope addict and baby killer) When applying for jobs my application was torn up after it was noted I served “in-country.” Finally I started to lie about my military time and was able to find a job.

  43. Bill Anwander says:


  44. Bill Anwander says:

    I have a question and I hope some one can answer it. I served up in Dong Ha in 68 on the Cau Viet driving R.Ts and Super 20s , Spent 8mo. there and 4mo. in Danang. Do the men who spent all that time have the Honor of calling themselves Brown Water Navy. We don’t here much about the guys on the ramps. Any input would be helpful. Thankyou Bill

    • jim says:

      I would have to say no to your question.

      • Bill Anwander says:

        Do you have any information that confirms your answer, or is it an opinion if so I would like to know. Thanks Bill

    • Alan Dahl says:

      NavSupAct Saigon Det CatLo Jul 68 – Feb 70
      ComNavForV (CCOS) Mar 70 – Dec 70

      I believe any and all Navy personnel who served in-country were part of the Brown Water Navy. Admittedly, many who served on the rivers had it worse than those on the bases, but we all worked together round the clock doing whatever we were assigned and making sure we were supporting those in harms way. We had jobs to do and we did them damn well.

      • Bill Anwander says:

        Thank you for your input Alan. I did catch rides on some of the LCU Boats back and forth from Dong Ha to Danang but most of the time i was working on the Ramp unloading them. Thanks again. Bill Anwander

  45. domain says:

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  46. Richard Marquette says:

    I’m trying to find out what I can about Martin A Ellis. He retired in 1973 after 24 years as a Lt. Cmdr. I do not know his rank in 1967-68 when he was assigned to River Patrol Force. He passed away Feb. 2013. Thank you Richard

  47. Paul C. Daiute says:

    I’m sorry but the Va is doing a good job with the determination of illnesses as a result of exposure to agent orange. There is a lot of scientific study that has been done and there is a good list of cancers that are associated with agent orange. If you don’t receive a disability for your colon cancer there is a good reason for it, sorry to say.
    Paul C. Daiute Independent duty Corpsman ATSB Song Ong Doc and Ca Mau 1970

  48. Jacqueline M. Shealy Joyce says:

    How can I find a vet who served on the boats in nam sometime from 1968 to who knows. I would really like to find him. HELP

  49. ken gamble says:

    Guys go to you tube and type in Gator Navy by ken gamble. I wrote the song and did a video about the brown water navy. The pictures are from 1964-65 that our xo took.

  50. Bill Newcomb says:

    Navy Seawolves HAL-3 Binh Thuy Vietnam 69/70
    Best to all @ Binh Thuy on both sides of the road.

  51. Ron Lester says:

    Anyone serve with LT Minest “Joseph” Foret (tour of duty 7/69 to 7/70) . Trying to find out the name and type of boat that he served on in Vietnam and any stories that you can share about him. Thanks.

  52. Lawrence D Vaughan says:

    My dad just passed away he never talked about the river boats. I recently found out he has a silver star and 2 bronze starts and a combat action. Pelham frank Vaughan also goes by shorty from texas would anyone know him. They said he was never the same. Please contact me

  53. Lawrence Vaughan says:

    My dad just passed away he never talked about the river boats. I recently found out he has a silver star and 2 bronze starts and a combat action. Pelham frank Vaughan also goes by shorty from texas would anyone know him. They said he was never the same. Please contact me

  54. SGM Norm Breece (RET) says:

    I ran many ops off of the PBRs while with E Co 75th Rangers out of Tan An Dec 68-Dec 69. They were close, perhaps at Tan An. My forgetter works overtime these days. My question is about a mission on 25-26 Jun 69. My team was inserted by boat just before dark on the 25th. The boats pulled back out into the river and waited for us to either complete our mission or need their help. Around 1230 hrs, as the boats were on opposite sides of a sharp bend in the river, an enemy shot at the first boat turned and shot at the second. In the confusion, the first fired up the second with their 50s. I pulled my team back to the river and secured the bank as the chief grounded the boat as it took many hits below the water line. We worked very hard on the sailor who was severely wounded and I was able to get an emergency medicac chopper in right away.

    Anyone might know of this mission I would appreciate filling in some details.
    Thanks in advance. RLTW

  55. EN2 Thomas Perkins says:

    Advisor for S. Vietnamese navy RAG 32 on the Perfume River 1970. Old, slow converted Lcm 6 & LCVP’s.

  56. matt cristino says:

    i was the only guy, i know of, that painted a big yellow peace sign on a big rock face in danang harbor 1970.

  57. John Schulz says:

    My Father-in-Law was Charles John Weaver. I am not sure what unit he was with, but I do know that John Kerry was the boat captain. Any information would be of great help. Please e-mail me at with any information. He joined SEAL TEAM ONE IN 1964.

  58. Bill Anwander says:

    Did anyone ever work on the ramps in Dong HA or the Bridge Ramp in Danang during 1968 and early 1969. Love to hear from you. Take Care

  59. Ed Gumpf says:

    I was in RD 533 at bien luc appx Aug-Oct 1969, then RD 512 based on YRBM20 from Nov-Mar, then RD 515 from Apr-July. Looking to connect with old boat crewmates!

  60. ron jones says:

    hey woodwater ron jones here get back to me

  61. ron jones says:

    hey woodwater ron jones here get back to me

  62. Jake Satcher says:

    Looking for anyone that may have known my dad, Norman Satcher. He may have gone by Satch. He would have been there 69-70, and, I believe on LCM 814. He passed away a few weeks ago, and I was just looking for someone that may have known him.

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