In late summer or early
fall of 1966, a handpicked group of Boat Support Unit One members were
assembled in a Quonset hut at the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado,
California. Before them were not only BSU-1’s Commanding
Officer, LCDR J.W. Sudduth, and the Commanding Officer of SEAL Team
One, but Admiral Roy L. Johnson, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
James Born -- then BM3 Born -- remembers the Admiral’s first order of
business: “Admiral Johnson advised us that this was a volunteer
operation and that it was likely that some of us would not come back.
He gave anyone who did not want to volunteer the opportunity to
immediately leave the room, before the formal top-secret briefing took
place. None of us left the room and we went forward from there.”
|Direct-action SEAL platoons had been
operating in the Rung Sat Special Zone near Saigon since February 1966.
Despite early successes, naval planners soon determined that what was needed
were “SEAL packages,” and Boat Support Unit One detachments, with
specially designed SEAL support craft -- shallow draft armored boats -- were
to be an integral part of those packages. It seems that two major reasons
lead to this conclusion. First, the recognition that SEALs worked best
when they could work alone without being dependant on others for operational
support. Second, although fiberglass PTF's could meet the SEALs need for speed,
they were high profile and fragile to small arms fire.
The men were then divided into two
detachments: Detachment Alpha comprised LT Sam W. Braly (CO), BM1 John
H. Harrison, GMG2 Wallace E. Knuteson, EN3 John W. Warden, BM3 James T. Born,
EMFN Joseph W. Raffell, and SN George C. Bosserdet. EN2 Richard L. Settle, would
volunteer, be briefed and assigned to Detachment the next day. Detachment
Bravo comprised LT Stephen W. Baumgart (XO), ENC James W. Rose, BM2 James R.
Owen, EN2 William E. Mount, EN2 "K" "T" Raines, ETN3 Therle
W. Lawrence, BM3 David F. Goff, SA Dennis W. Thompson. The next
six months were spent preparing their boats -- a Mike Boat (to become an HSSC
-Heavy Seal Support Craft) for Detachment Alpha, and an LCPL boat for Detachment
Bravo -- and training with members of SEAL Team One to go into combat together.
In March 1967, Detachments Alpha and Bravo deployed on the U.S.S. Oak Hill LSD-7,
traveled to Pearl Harbor where they picked up ammunition and then to Subic Bay
PI where they picked up machineguns, and on to Vietnam. Detachment Alpha
supported SEAL Team One at Can Tho during March, and from April to August from
My Tho. Detachment Bravo spent the entire deployment at Can Tho.
It was not until they returned, that the men learned that they were part of
From that point, MST-2 built up its presence in Vietnam rapidly, and
its inventory of craft to include specially designed craft like the LSSC and
MSSC. At the time of the 1968 Tet Offensive, there were six MST-2 detachments
supporting SEAL operations throughout the Mekong Delta. It is believed that
from 1968 throughout 1970, MST-2 maintained six or seven detachments, each serving
six months, in the Delta. The last MST-2 detachment presumably left Vietnam
with the last direct-action SEAL platoon on 7 December 1971.
- Sources for this page:
Jim Born… Click on his
name to his web page on Warboats.org for the more complete store of Detachment
SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations
in Vietnam, by T.L. Bosiljevac.
© William D. Bremer (2002)