“River Rats”

by Ralph Christopher


River Rats a Brown water Navy story centered around 1970 during the Cambodian Invasion. It speaks of the sailors of YRBM 21 on the Mekong River at An Long Village supporting the Grand Canal, and the border and the different RIVDIVs and River Assault Squadrons 13 & 15 on border interdiction Operations. Mr. Fry, YRBM 21 OIC, and Dan Backus, ENG/REP Officer, were both advisors as well as Kirk Ferguson (CO of STABRON 20), Larry Bissonnette and Al DeRoco, both CO’s of RIVDIV 593, John Perry of HAL-3, Det-9, Chief “Patches” Watson (SEAL TEAM II) and many other commanders and shipmates. I also talk about ATSB Ben Keo on the Vam Co Dong and Operation Slingshot. River Rats tells the story of the big team and all the different units, as witnessed through the eyes of a 20 year old Naval Support Activity snipe from Virginia.

River Rats is 279 pages with original artwork on front, back and a great map created and drawn by Button Boggs, with 47 new pictures. The book can be purchased for $15.00 soft copy or $24.00 hard dustcover from Gamewardens of Vietnam at www.tf116.org Also, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other websites, by searching River Rats by Ralph Christopher. You can also order by calling Authorhouse Publishing toll free at 1-888-280-7715.

It was my honor telling this story and I hope it shines well on the River Rats for they were the best.
Ralph Christopher

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River Rats

Autobiography Examines Vietnam War from Sailor’s Perspective
LAS VEGAS – From the foggy pages of history and the muddy waters of far-off lands comes Ralph Christopher’s new book, River Rats (now available through AuthorHouse), the true story of an elite group of men who wrote a page in United States naval history.

Christopher invites readers to step back in time to a land most young men knew little about when they found themselves defending freedom in South Vietnam. River Rats is an autobiographical account of his tour as a 20-year-old member of the “Brown Water Navy,” made up of small units that manned naval firebases and floating detachments and rode patrol boats alongside South Vietnamese troops, mercenaries and regional forces. These units were the first to intercept communist forces trying to transport weapons and supplies into the Republic of Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Christopher brings each page to life with vivid descriptions of government operations and day-to-day life that can only come from someone who was there to witness it firsthand. Readers see the overthrow of the Cambodian government and relive the grim realities of war as the bodies of Vietnamese refugees float past U.S. servicemen in the Mekong River. With no shortage of action and page-turning suspense, Christopher’s account puts readers squarely in the middle of the action.

“I am proud to bring you this important story of how the United States Navy severed the communist lines and defeated their armies, only to return home and watch the government give the war away many years later,” says Christopher. “The River Rats were held to a high standard and fought with honor alongside the free people of South Vietnam. They are the only men in the history of the Navy authorized to wear the black beret, and they won their part of the Vietnam War.”

From pre-war training and charging headlong into enemy fire aboard a patrol boat to visiting President Nixon in Washington and hearing the American outcry against the conflict, River Rats leaves no corner of the war unexplored. After serving in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy, Christopher returned home to Virginia and attended classes at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1982, he graduated from the Musicians Institute of Technology in Hollywood, Calif. He is now a veteran performer and recording artist. He lives with his family in Nevada and works with young adults, music and veterans affairs.

AuthorHouse is the premier publishing house for emerging authors and new voices in literature. For more information, please visit www.authorhouse.com.


“Ralph Christopher’s “RIVER RATS” has captured the essence of his tour of duty in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. Don’t miss the impressive artwork design of the PBR churning up a brown water wash of riverine squadron shoulder patches on the book’s front dust cover, the caricature of the river rat on board the PBR on the back dust cover, and the free-hand drawn map of the Mekong Delta on page V with place names we who were there in the early 1970s know but cartographers for National Geographic would not necessarily know. Ralph recounts the progress of the war, the day to day experiences with many of the U.S. Navy sailors, by name, who were all a part of the Brown Water Navy forces fighting a formidable enemy. There are 47 new photographs and all of his recollections are true, the men you meet through Ralph were naval warriors fighting and dying in this hostile environment. Ralph Christopher’s narrative moves from often humorous situations to riveting, gut-wrenching firefights where his dialog is that of another Tom Clancy. Every armchair admiral who served in any war will want this book in his library.”

Fair winds…safe harbors,
Kirk Ferguson