Mobile Riverine Force
The dimension and tempo of MRF operations were substantially reduced in July as the 2nd Brigade of the Ninth Division assumed a stand down in preparation for their scheduled redeployment. Except for a series of 3rd Brigade operations, supported by seven river assault craft, in the Can Giouc District of Long An Province, primary emphasis on MRF activity was directed toward local operations with the 1st Brigade in defense and the military installation at Dong Tam. RAC also supported several operations in Kien Hoa Province involving Vietnamese Army, Regional Forces, and Provincial Reconnaissance Units, in addition to the usual escort, burn/defoliation, and MEDCAP missions.
Contact with the enemy was extremely light as shown by the drastic decline in enemy KIA's, down to 63. Of the 11 hostile fire incidents reported, only 4 were enemy inititated firefights. These low figures evidently reflect a reduction in both MRF and enemy activities.
The final official ceremony of the Mobile Riverine Force was held at 1500 on 6 July on the flight deck of the flagship, USS Benewah (APB-35) as the Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to the 2nd Brigade and River Assault Flotilla One for the MRF's outstanding actions during the period 29 January 1968 to 4 March at the time of the Tet Offensive. General William D. Rossen, Deputy Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command presented the awards. The ships and assault craft of Task Force 117
Downgraded at 3 year intervals
Declassified after 12 years
then passed in review to conclude the ceremony.
The 3/60th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the U.S. Army Ninth Division departed on 8 July and was the first MRF unit to be redeployed in connection with the 25,000 man reduction announced by President Nixon.
Task Force 117 provided 5 ASPB's on 26 July to CTG 116.3 (Central Delta Patrol Group) in temporary support of river patrol duties on the My Tho and Ham Luong Rivers.
A new RAC numbering system is in effect whereby all craft of a class are assigned a different number, as opposed to the former divisional numbering system, i.e. A-1 designates ASPB number 1, Z-4 is Zippo number 4 etc.
Sixteen ASPB's, formerly assigned to CTF 116 and utilized in a patrol capacity as River Division 595 were transferred to CTF 116 during July. The division organization and boat strength of TF 117 during July is shown below:
RIVER ASSAULT SQUADRON 13 RIVER ASSAULT SQUADRON 15
Craft RAD 131 RAD 132 RAD 151 RAD 152 RAD 153 Totals
ATC 15 13 13 13 0 54
ASPB 6 6 6 6 16 40
Monitor 3 3 3 3 0 12
CCB 2 1 1 1 0 5
Refueler 0 1 0 1 0 2
River assault craft employment on 23 July as shown below is illustrative of the variety of activities which RAC were committed during the month:
ATC ASPB MON CCB REF TOTALS
Aquasnipers 3 2 1 6
Base Defense (1) 11 2 13
U.S. 9th Defense 18 8 4(1Z) 2 1 33
Can Giouc Operations 3 2 2(1Z) 1 8
Operations Giant Slingshot 13 12 5(2Z) 2 32
Rung Sat Special Zone 1 7 1(1Z) 9
OVHL/CASREP 5 6 11
Upkeep 1 1
Total 54 40 12(5Z) 5 2 113
(1) 3 MSM also committed to base defense
(2) (Z) - Zippo, flame thrower configured monitor
Operations in Kien Hoa Province
In comparison with previous months, MRF activity in Kien Hoa Province was very limited during July. The former aggressive search and clear operations conducted throughout the province were absent as the 2nd Brigade, stood down and the main effort became defensive as RAC supported the 6/31 Infantry Battalion of the 1st Brigade in local security operations near Dong Tam and along the Kinh Xang which were designated to protect the base from enemy attack. These local operations consisted of troop insertions, sweeps and extractions supported by RAC. The ships of the MRF added their firepower to Dong Tam defense by providing frequent H & I fire into the area bordering the southern perimeter of the base. Night sniper and interdiction patrols were also carried on nightly as part of the base defense measures. Navy aquasnipers and 6/31 sniper teams accounted for ten Viet Cong killed during the patrols along the banks of the My Tho River near Dong Tam and the Mobile Riverine base.
RAC supported 4 Kien Hoa Province RF and 3 PRU operations along the Co Chien, Cai Mon and Ba Lai Rivers during the last ten days fo the month. The RF's and PRU's gained contacts on several occasions and accounted for 28 VC killed and 20 captured.
During the last 8 days of July RAC on patrol duties and those in blocking stations after troop insertions inspected 924 sampans resulting in 24 detained.
Dong Tam Base and the Mobile Riverine Base were again subjected to rocket/mortar fire during the month. At 1605 on the 10th, Dong Tam received a single 107mm rocket which impacted less than 50 feet from the in/out processing center at Dong Tam resulting in three USA killed, and 18 USA and 3 USN wounded. The next night at 2112, Dong Tam received incoming mortar. NUECES (APB 40) and SATYR (ARL 23) took the suspected VC positions on the south bank of the My Tho River under fire immediately with unknown results. A 1st Brigade helo search team was called in to recon the area. They sighted three sampans, took them under fire and sunk them. No signs of enemy activity were evident at first light the following morning as the RIVFLOT ONE Command and Control helo reconned the area. Again on 16 July at 2158, units of the MRB at Dong Tam observed 5 to 7 rockets fired from the south bank of the My Tho toward the Dong Tam Base and the MRB. Two of these landed in the water near the MRB without causing damage. USS TOM GREEN COUNTY (LST 1159) reported swimmers in the area in the same general vicinity as the suspected launch sight. All ships returned fire and base defense boats dropped grenades in the area of the suspected swimmers. No friendly casualties were sustained and enemy casualties are unknown.
The first ENIFF of the month occurred on 13 July when ATC 30 and 47 came under automatic weapons and AK-47 fire from the north bank of the My Tho 3 miles southwest of Dong Tam (XS 369 413) while conducting night patrol and sniper operations. The RAC
and snipers returned and suppressed the enemy fire with small arms. There were no friendly casualties and enemy casualties were unknown.
The Navy Command and Control helo, with Captain Carvel Blair, COMRIVFLOT ONE aboard, received small arms fire from the south bank of the My Tho (XS 374 402) during a reconnaissance flight on the afternoon of 16 July. No hits were sustained. The helo returned fire and Dong Tam artillery placed a strike into the area. Monitor 4 was dispatched to investigate and later a Navy EOD team entered the area in Boston whalers and town out two damaged sampans.
During sniper patrol operations along the My Tho, ATC 13 and 48 ran aground on a mudflat 1 1/2 miles southwest of Dong Tam (XS 410 412) at 2330 on the night of 16 July. An underwater explosion blew a 12 inch hole in the stern of ATC 13 as it attempted to back full and caused minor flooding. ATC 5 went to assist and experienced six small underwater detonations before pulling T-13 free at 0330. The explosions were evaluated as caused by discarded friendly ordnance or detonators.
ATC 5, on base defense patrol on the My Tho River received about ten rounds of small arms fire from the north bank of the My Tho (XS 398 419) during early afternoon of 17 July. ATC 8 was dispatched to recon the area and had negative results. The 6/31 Infantry moved troops into the area to investigate the incident.
Beginning at 0700 on July 21, RAS 13 with 2 ASPB's, 16 ATC's, 3 Monitors and 2 CCB's conducted a show of force and 2 MEDCAPS in areas that RAC had not entered since the stand down of the 2nd Brigade. MEDCAPS were conducted at Ap Hoa An and Ap Cho villages along the Ben Tre River; the RAC fired weapons into two areas along the south bank of the Ben Tre and later proceeded 4 miles into the western Bai Lai River and reconned both banks by fire. The LHFT accompanying the RAC accounted for 3 VC killed, 3 structures destroyed and 4 damaged and 1 VC flag destroyed.
River assault craft of TE 126.96.36.199 inserted two Kien Hoa Province Regional Force companies on the north bank of the Co Chien River (XS 375 175) at 0930 on 27 July, and the RAC established blocking stations. The RF's shortly came into contact with an unknown size VC force and accounted for 17 killed, 10 captured and 3 wounded. One RF troop was killed. RAC in blocking stations checked 200 personnel in 60 sampans. The RF's were extracted at 1630. On the same day elements of "E" Company of the 6/31 Infantry Battalion also came into contact with 10 to 15 Viet Cong while operating along the Rach Cam 8 1/2 miles southwest of Dong tam (XS 370 415). One VC was reported killed by the troopers and one by the air cover.
A possible enemy mining attempt against ships of the MRB was thwarted at 2133 on the night of 21 July. ATC-17 while on base defense in the My Tho (XS 418 420) spotted debris about 200 yards from the stern of the USS Benewah (APB 35). A crewman fired into the debris with a shotgun and a large explosion erupted in a water spout 60-70 feet high. Concussion grenades were then dropped with no further
results. No damage was sustained by U.S. craft.
At 0730 on 31 July, while inserting troops of the 6/31 Infantry Battalion on the My Tho River (XS 420 408, two ATC's received about 12 rounds of automatic weapons fire. The fire was returned with M-16. There were no friendly casualties. The RAC then established blocking stations and checked 26 sampans. Six detainees were later taken to Dong Tam.
Operations in Long An Province
A detachment of 7 RAC conducted troop lift and waterborne blocking services in conjunction with the 3/7 Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade, U.S. Ninth Division in the Can Giuoc District of Long An Province during the month. Ground contact was generally light as RAC supported day and night ambush and interdiction operations in the area during the periods 5-9, 13-19, and 22-31 July.
At 0920 on 6 July, RAC received enemy sniper fire during a beach prep and bunker destruction operation prior to insertion of troops on the Rach Gia, two miles northeast of Can Giuoc (XS 876 741) no friendly casualties were sustained and one enemy bunker complex was destroyed by flame. Troops were extracted at 1520.
An ENIFF erupted at 2115 on 14 July as the enemy attacked assault craft with recoilless rifle, B-40, small arms and .50 caliber machine gun fire. RAC were enroute on the Rach Ba Dang, 4 1/2 miles east of Can Giouc (XS 888 913) to insert 3/7 Infantry Battalion ambush platoon when the fire fight started. ATC 45 received a recoilless
rifle hit and ATC 46 took a B-40 rocket hit. Four sailors were wounded, all minor, and the two RAC received minor damage. Firing runs were made on the enemy positions and the area was flamed down. Low tidal conditions precluded troop landings but artillery and air strikes were called in. Enemy casualties were unknown. The only other incident involving RAC occurred on 27 July when RAC, while waiting to backload troops, took a sampan under fire 2 1/2 miles southwest of Can Giuoc (XS 867 714) resulting in one VC killed.