RIVER DIVISION 513
1 November 1968
I would like
to introduce myself and chat in an informal manner with you about our River
Division. I know you are interested in hearing more in detail about what your
loved ones, sons, and friends are doing during their tour in
To start out, I would like to tell you a little about our present base, the Binh Thuy Naval Base. The base is headquarters for Commander, River Patrol Flotilla FIVE, Capt. A. W. PRICE, Jr., and the location of a Naval Support Activity Detachment. Part of the River Patrol Force here also includes a SEAL detachment (Sea, Air, and Land Reconnaissance Team), three River (PBR) Divisions, and two helicopter detachments. All of these units help extend the Navy’s Seapower into control of the waterways of the Mekong Delta region.
Naval Base is approximately 90 miles southwest of Saigon, along the
The main reason for the existence of this River Division is the use of and support of the PBR’s (River Patrol Boats). The PBR’s main function here in the Delta region is to control the waterways. This is done by interdicting river traffic. For example, on an average day, we board and search 500 hundred junks, checking for contraband cargo, draft dodgers, and suspicious personnel. During the later evening, and early morning hours, we enforce curfew periods on the waterways.
PBR’s have been so successful in their operations that they have expanded into many secondary functions. We conduct medical civic action programs (MEDCARS) where Navy Medical Corpsman administer treatment to 200-300 persons in an average village, while PBR sailors help Vietnamese officials distribute cigarettes, newspapers, soap, clothing, and similar items. Our division alone conducted two such Medcaps in September and five in October.
also been called on to deliver the voice of the government of
PBR sailors have also supported the local popular and regional forces in sweeping operations. For example we might convoy this Vietnamese force to a designated landing area and insert them into the area. While the troops sweep the area, PBR’s block the waterways to prevent the Viet Cong from escaping by these waterways. If any casualties occur, PBR’s have been called to medical evacuate (MEDVAC) the personnel to the local hospitals. In one recent operation one of our patrols was presented a captured VC flag for its assistance in an operation with the local Vietnamese forces. PBR’s and the men of this Division from interdicting water traffic to blockading waterways perform a valuable function in this Vietnamese war.
I have been talking so much about PBR’s I would now like to tell you a few details about the boat itself. Overall, the PBR is 31 feet long, heavily armed, and water jet-pump propelled. The weapontry includes: three (3) heavy machine guns, one (1) light machine gun, one (1) automatic grenade launcher, three (3) M-16 rifles, two (2) single fire grenade launchers, and an assortment of thrown hand grenades and flares. It is even possible to mount a 60mm mortar on a PBR, to be used during special operations. One can really tell that the PBR is well capable of protecting itself in his dealings with “Charlie”. Couple this asset with the PBR’s speed, maneuverability, and highly trained men, you have a formidable force that can deal with the Viet Cong with superiority if the needs arrise.
You have all probably heard from the men of the Division of how hard they have been working lately. Well all this work has not been only doing the job of patrolling the waterways. The men have also worked very much on their boats since we have been at Bhin Thuy Naval Base to prepare for our Command Inspection. While the Division was on the “LST” (Ship with a capability of supporting PBR’s), the boats were easily damaged by the rough treatment they received tieing up along-side the ship in frequently bad weather. Many of us would stand on the deck and watch our boats bouncing against one another. At that time, because of the limited capability of an “LST” nothing could be done.
Then came our transfer to Bhin Thuy Naval Base and to work on bringing up our boats began in earnest. Time in this situation was definitely not on our side, for we had three months’ work to be completed in six weeks. The six weeks passed rapidly, and the day of the Command Inspection, 17 October 1968, arrived. What all of our men worked so hard for -their boats- was “on the line”. Amid words of the inspection party, there occurred statements as “OUTSTANDING”, “PERFECT”, “GREAT”, and “I LIKE THE LOOKS OF THEM”. Needless to say we passed our inspection with an overall OUTSTANDING. I know the men deep down are very proud of the accomplishments (even though you won’t get one to admit it). I know I was proud of the men.
This letter contains an addendum of Officers and men arriving and departing the Division in September and October 1968. To the new men and their families, I extend “Welcome Aboard!” to the men and their families departing “Fair Winds and Smooth Sailing” on their new tours.
As another addition to this letter, we are adding a map of the area in which River Division 513 operates. It is hoped that when your friends loved ones, or sons mention various names, hamlets, towns, rivers, or islands, you will have a better idea where it is.
While I have the opportunity, to, I would like to make it known to everyone that if an emergency does exist in your family, PLEASE contact the American Red Cross. Any other method of notification causes undue delay. I do hope this advice will not have to be adhered to by anyone!!
I hope this
letter has been of your assistance in explaining to you something of the
purpose and function of PBR’s in
H.J. FEENEY III
RIVER DIVISION 513
PERSONNEL ARRIVALS PERSONELL DEPARTURES
LT (jg) W. L. MARGESON LT. R. J. FERENCE
EMC (SS) E. E. CAIDITO EN3 C. GILLILAND
BM1 K. G. DANIELS ENC R. N. SCHOCK
BM1 H. C. MC LEOD BMC O. L. BEARD
QM1 F. B. HEALEY SN B. C. LAWRENCE
EN2 G. C. DOTY EN3 R. G. NICOLAYSEN
GMG3 W. A. KEEN GMG3 R. A. CHAVIERS
EN3 D. R. ELLSWORTH BMSN D. L. WHITLEY
SN P. C. WILLIAMS ENC(SS) W. F. CATRON