in progress, if you have anything to add or correct, please contact me, Bill
9/11/70 -- MST-2 Det Golf
leaves for war and arrives in San Francisco
- 1300: MST-2 Det Golf and
Seal Team One, departs
NAS, North Island by C-118, along with the SEAL’s Yankee
Platoon. Not long thereafter, we arrive at
from where some of us find a ride to San Francisco for an evening of entertainment
in North Beach. Finding our way back on public transportation after 0200
was an adventure requiring great will and determination (i.e., the fear of being
court-martialed). The number one single in the U.S. --
“War” by Edwin
9/17/70 -- MST-2 Det Golf arrives in Saigon
- 1330: Yes, four days after we leave the
continental United States (taking into account the International Dateline),
we arrive at Tan Son Nut Airport, Saigon, but only after a tour of the World
War II Pacific -- our journey included stops of various lengths at
Hawaii, Wake, Midway, Guam, and the Philippines.
Upon arrival at Tan Son Nut Airport, we are whisked off NavSpecWarGruV, Saigon.
My first impression of Saigon is that this place is too cosmopolitan and too
packed with American military to ever fall to the Commies. We spend two
days mostly sitting around NavSpecWarGruV waiting for transportation, and two
nights mostly at the Victoria Hotel, with its rooftop bar.
From that 13th floor bar on my first night in Saigon, we could see the war going
on beyond the city, and suddenly I wasn’t so sure about the future -- South
Vietnam’s or my own.
9/19/70 -- MST-2 Det Golf goes to Binh Thuy
- 1700: We catch a flight to Binh Thuy,
arriving at 1830, no doubt just in time for me to go to the club -- probably
with Joe DeFloria, Brian Selzer, and any other SEAL and MST-2 officers who are
in Binh Thuy -- for beers, hot dogs, and shuffleboard, and war stories.
We will not learn until sometime after we get to Long Phu that Jimi Hendrix
has died of a drug overdose on September 18, in Paris, France.
9/20/70 -- MST-2 Det Golf arrives at Long
Phu and sees first action
- 1300: Shortly after the MSSC arrives
from Long Phu, we load up and meet the Bassac River for the first time. The
river seems wide and the departing MST crew is nonchalant -- I’m crawling out
of my skin. We arrived at Long Phu about 1700, and as we stumble up the muddy
trail for the first time, the MST-2 officer I was to relieve appears out of
the base bar (or maybe it was the briefing hooch) and greets me with something
to the effect “Hi, glad you’re here, we are going on an operation.” I
put down my bags, tell my lead PO, my coxswain, and maybe some others to come
on, and we head back to the MSSC. On the way, my soon-to-be predecessor explained
the while extracting under fire the night before, an LDNN had lost an M-60 in
a small canal, and we were taking the SEALs back to get it. Soon we were
in the boat and on our way toward Dung Island on a sunny late summer eve. The
first thing we discover is that there are no flac jackets or helmets for me
or my men -- “I’m sorry sir, that’s my helmet you are trying to hide under.”
I feel awfully naked, hunching my 6’3” frame down next to the OIC’s seat as
he explains what canal we are going to -- the longest one of course -- and how
often they get shot at there. Next to me was my coxswain getting his instructions.
The canal is narrow and seems to go on forever, but after a time we arrive at
the location of a small inlet that is recognized from the night before. The
MSSC is professionally guided into bank next to the inlet, and quickly the SEALs
off-load and form a perimeter. Soon one SEAL starts laying down protective fire
from his grenade launcher, while another SEAL begins a diving operation with
scuba gear. After awhile -- somewhere between ten minutes and forever
-- the diving operation is aborted with the decision that the weapon is really
lost and there’s no chance that Charlie will find it in the muck in which it
has no doubt sunk. The SEALs climb back on board we head out to exit for
the other end of the canal. Several sampans appear in the canal -- Viet
Cong maybe, but with since the sun is still up and they have women and children
on board they could be South Vietnamese, so we slow so as not to swamp them
and pass by warily. A few seconds later after a bend in the canal suddenly
we are taking automatic weapons fire from the banks -- the boat crew springs
to action with suppressing fire. As I would discover repeatedly the M-60 is
nice, and the.50 caliber is powerful, but the buzzing sound of the minigun putting
out 100 rounds a second is the warm sound of security -- no one would raise
his head for that! Of course, the SEALs add their firepower just for good measure.
As I duck and turn my head to the stern, I can see that all that ammo churning
the water and shredding the bank. At the same time, the coxswain goes
full throttle, putting the MSSC on full-step, and in a seconds it is over. “Cease
fire” is yelled throughout the boat, the firing stops, and within another few
minutes we were on the Bassac headed back to camp. While many of our operations
have melded into memories of dark canals, warning shots, silent insertions,
balls-to-the-wall rides to “hot” extraction points, and suppressing fire from
the river and canal banks, this first taste of action remains vivid and distinct.
9/30/70 -- Juliet Platoon’s Helo Op results
- Juliet Platoon uses Army slicks for an operation
“on a major Vietcong munitions and weapons repair facility.” Nearly every
member of the platoon is wounded by a command detonated mine in the trees or
a command detonated howitzer round in the factory, but all would return to action.
Read the story in The Element of Surprise: Navy Seals in Vietnam, Chapters
25 and 26. (See also SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations in Vietnam, Chapter 7.)
Janis Joplin dies
10/6(?)/70 -- MSSC ambush: Vietcong KIAs
and captured sampan
- Read the story in The Element of Surprise:
Navy Seals in Vietnam, Chapter 28.
10/10/70 -- Cruising in the MSSC, trolling
- “After sitting at the ambush site [in the MSSC]
for several hours with no results, Mr. Walsh decided to cruise a few canals
in the medium and try to make contact with Charlie that way. Finally some poor
gook fired his weapon to warn his comrades. The medium opened up with all its
weapons in the direction of the shot. If there was anything left of the poor
fucker who fired the shot, he deserved to live.” The Element of Surprise:
Navy Seals in Vietnam (p.224)
10/11/70 -- My son, William Roger Bremer,
- Although “Roger,” my second child and first
son, is born on the 12th in Vietnam, I will not learn of his birth until several
days later, after we return from Binh Thuy. Roger is named in honor of
my college friend and fraternity brother, Roger Parmentier,
who was killed in Vietnam less than two months earlier on August 17, 1970.
My Roger, a victim of type-I diabetes, died on June 14, 1993. Both so good,
both so young.
10/21/70 -- Bob Dylan releases New Morning
11/17/70 -- Court martial of Lt.
William Calley begins at Fort Benning, Georgia
11/2?/70 -- Grateful Dead release
11/21/70 -- Colorado Buffs 49 - Air Force
- It’s a beautiful Sunday in Long Phu, and a
bunch of us are hanging out, getting some rays, and listening on Radio Vietnam
to football when the score is announced. I was a Colorado alumnus, Nick
Walsh was from the Air Force Academy, and his Falcons were supposedly Sugar
Bowl bound. Ah, the joy of it.
12/??/70 -- North Tower of World Trade Center
12/1-12/7/70 -- R&R in Hong Kong with
transfers last 125 small coastal and River Combat Boats to South Vietnam
12/11/70 -- Juliet Platoon departs Long
Phu, relieved by Victor Platoon
12/20/70 -- X-Ray Platoon suffers first
- X-Ray Platoon’s AOIC, ENC Frank W. Bomar, and
EM3 James L. Riter are killed in an ambush at Truc Giang. RM2 Harold Baker is
awarded the Navy Cross.
12/21/70-- Elvis Presley visits
our Commander-in-Chief, Richard M. Nixon, in the White House
12/24/70 -- Bob Hope appears at Da Nang
on Christmas Eve -- it was on the radio
- He appeared with Johnny Bench, Gloria Loring,
Lola Falana, and the Golddiggers.
12/31/70 -- New Years is celebrated by too
much to drink and personal fireworks at midnight
1/09/71 -- Victor Platoon kills
three Vietcong in ambush
- (See SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations in Vietnam,
1/19/71 -- LSSC ambushed at Nam Can
James F. Thames of SEAL Team
One and two LDNNs are killed at Nam Can when the LSSC in which they are operating
is ambushed and hit by two B-40 rockets, one of which hit the fuel tank starting
a fire. Some SEALs, LDNNs, and crew members, including MST-2 OIC
Robert Natter, are thrown out of the boat, and others jump overboard.
Despite his severe wounds, GMSA Bruce A. Boehme, the coxswain, is able to put
out the fire. Several SEALs and MST-2 personnel, including LT Natter, are able
to get back in the boat and suppress the enemy fire. GMSA Boehme succeeds in
returning the LSSC, which radio had been knocked out, to Solid Anchor, where,
before collapsing from his wounds, LT. Natter goes to the Seawolf hooch and
scrambles Seawolfs to finish off the job and retrieve personnel left behind.
LT. Natter and (I believe) GMSA Bruce A. Boehme are awarded Silver Stars for
their heroic actions. Meanwhile, members of Zulu Platoon, alerted by radio traffic,
took helos to the site to assist in the rescue. (Thanks to BMC James F. Comer
(Ret.) for helping fill in the facts; see also SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations
in Vietnam, Chapter 8.)
(Picture of LSSC [courtesy of Don Crawford])
1/30/71 -- FN Harold E. Birky, of X-Ray
platoon killed in action north of Ben Tre
- (See SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations in Vietnam,
1/31/71 -- Apollo 14
- The flight landed on the Moon on February 5,
and returned to the Earth on February 9.
2/28/71 -- LSSC ambushed near Ben Tre with
- A SEAL squad from X-Ray platoon and the MST-2
crew supporting them took heavy casualties when a B-40 rocket slammed into their
LSSC as it transitted the Ham Luong Canal.
3/4/71 -- X-Ray Platoon’s OIC killed
in river ambush near Ben Tre
- As compelling told to and related by
CDR Bill Salisbury,
LT Michael Collins is killed and everyone else is wounded when their MSSC is
fired upon near Kien Giang. They safely exite the kill zone, but “return to
“take the fuckers on” when a 40MM grenade strikes the canopy and blasts shrapnel
across the boat. (See also, The Men Behind the Trident, p. 222.]
3/08/71 -- Frazier Beats Ali
- In Binh Thuy, a number of us gathered around
the radio to listen as Joe Frazier wins an unanimous 15-round decision at Madison
Square Garden over Mohammed Ali. In those days, it was okay to think of Ali
as a draft dodger rather than as a national treasure, so I cheer for Frazier.
3/12/71 -- MST-2 Det Golf departs Long Phu
for the last time
3/19/71 -- MST-2 Det Golf departs Saigon
3/23/71 -- MST-2 Det Golf arrives at NAS,
North Island-- We are home!