12-10-02 The craft of the MRF evolved with the war on the rivers of Viet Nam. There were four River Assault Groups (RAGs): RivDiv 9, RivDiv 11, RivDiv 13, and RivDiv 15.
Eleven and 13 generally had the old boats and 13 and 15 got the newer boats with the bells and whistles.
Example: If your ATC had a vinyl cover over the well deck it was an early boat and was in 9 or 11; if it had a steel helo pad, it was in 13 or 15. Not a hard and fast rule, as some of the earlier boats got the helo pad conversion at Dong Tam.
I believe that most of the in-country conversion work was done at Dong Tam for the RAGs. Dong Tam had all the equipment to do just about anything. Dong Tam was the main base for the MRF. After the MRF disbanded in October 1969, these Divisions were parceled out to the Viets with American advisors.
When I came to SEA FLOAT in 1970, the ACTOV (Accelerated Turn Over to the
Vietnamese) was in high-gear. American boats were qualifying their VN crews. As soon as this was done, the white star was replaced with a yellow rectangle and red X that indicated to the air crews this was a VN boat. The Americans were transferred out when their counterpart qualified and one advisor stayed behind to coordinate with the local Tactical Operations Center (TOC). (I was glad I never was an advisor.)
One of the things I remember was when RivDiv 11 turned over. The Viet crews were on one end of the pontoon and the US crews on the other. There were a lot of Army/Navy brass in attendance and a little old guy in civilian clothes. We all wondered who he was. It occurred to me that he looked familiar and then I recognized him: VADM Daniel V. Gallery, USN (Ret). If that doesn't ring a bell, Dan was the one whose carrier task group captured the U-505 in the South Atlantic in WW2. The sub now resides at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL today. Why he was there was anybody's guess.
- Bob Stoner
These are the Mk I versions of the ATC and MON. The ATC has the cloth top over the well deck and the MON has the 81mm mortar pit in back of the 40mm Bofors turret. The 105mm howitzer MON used the turret from the Marines'
LVTP5(H) amtrack and used the 20mm turrets off the ASPB. Each of the turrets got a surround of bar armor. Any VC that wanted to duke out with a MON had to have a death wish -- the 40mm was bad enough by itself, but the 105mm would really ruin your day.
I had an acquaintance who was the gun captain on a 40mm MON, M-112-1. They generally didn't worry about B-40 rockets. What they really worried about was the 75mm recoilless rifles. The 75mm was more accurate and had better penetration than the rocket. He told me the scaredest he ever was when they took a hit in the side from a 75mm. He saw the interior plate turn red and the paint blister, but the HEAT round did not penetrate.
- Bob Stoner