Several decades ago, I was lounging around in one of my favorite places on earth, a small gun shop. As with all wars, Vietnam had contributed its share of new varieties of weapons to the American gun culture. One of them was the SKS, antecedent of the AK47. The SKS wasn’t as popular because it had only a 10-shot magazine, but it was cheap. A customer examining one asked, “Is it loud?” The store owner, Jack Little, turned to a quiet man standing there and said, “I don’t know; how about it, Bob? Is it loud?”
The quiet fellow replied, “It’s the loudest sound in the world when it’s being fired at you from a riverbank.”
He had been a member of the Brown Water Navy. This is their story.
TIME TRAVEL: This post in Stars and Stripes is dated September 14, 1969. It’s a great overview of the Brown Water Navy at the time it was well-developed and still at war:
“Speaking of the men who do this day in and day out, [Admiral] Zumwalt says, ‘They are tigers in every respect. Tales of their courage are legion. The episodes they have brought off are almost unbelievable.’ ”
“These men come fresh from high school to set up night ambushes on a canal just half a mile from the Cambodian border. They come from drafting boards in air-conditioned offices to advise Vietnamese river assault and interdiction divisions at advance tactical support bases. They come from years of service on larger ships learning to fight a different type of war.”
Decades later, Brown Water Navy vets from Wisconsin tell their story in this all-too-brief but REAL 8-minute video:
“For a while there, I think 75% of the people on the boats were killed or wounded. Everybody on my crew was wounded at least twice … the jungle was right up to the riverbanks, and that’s when Admiral Zumwalt ordered the use of Agent Orange. After they sprayed it, there was nothing alive …”
If there had been no Agent Orange, it is likely that the Vietcong would have slaughtered all or most of the sailors and their Army “cargo”. One of the bitter ironies of war.
30-minute docudrama containing real footage, narrated in part by the vets who were there. Excellent graphics that clearly illustrate the mission:
***Do not miss this heartbreaking but ultimately triumphant story from a Vietnamese Brown Water Navy veteran: the US pullout in 1975:
“The ideals of the Free World Community for Freedom and Democracy to all nations were limited to those who had the power to defend themselves against the Red Communists. When the time came, the weaker was the loser to the dictatorship because the Free World Community turned their back and refused to help due to their own interests … I was angry at that thought and was very upset with myself for having devoted my whole life for the ideals that I believed. Many times, I was almost killed in combat, at the sea, north of seventeenth parallels or in the jungles near the Viet Cong secret zones at Quang Nam Province. Last night, I defended my base until the last minute of the unwanted war. Now, in the dark cool night in the middle of the East Sea, I found the first lesson of the truth. Everything was politics and for national interests, not for ideals or freedom fighters at all. ”
THAT WAS NOT THE END OF HIS STORY! He was a lucky one.
To those who served in America’s Brown Water Navy: Your courage is far above the norm. Your honor will always shine bright. To those who still live, may God give you peace, and may you and all our warriors find assurance of His respect, and of His peace and eternal life beyond this life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I couldn’t help that.
Thank you to ALL who have and still serve. We are forever grateful.
Have a safe and blessed RED Friday all.