Former Chief Staff Officer
River Assault Division 91
Capt. Charles Horowitz, USN, Retired
Commander River Assault Squadron 9, Oct ’66 – Dec 67
A “light” remembrance:
One Division 91 crewman recalls the captain coming aboard CCB-91-1 during the early part of our tour in Viet Nam. He had his sidearm on his hip, charts in his hand, document pack slung across his shoulder, and a folding metal chair.
During the early part of his tour, and before the rockets started flying, operations were a bit more casual. We had not taken the stick to the hornets nest as yet. Our missions were shorter, and we were doing some long transits between various bases. During one of these transits, the captain was sitting in the chair alongside the coxswain station when the boat hit a wake. The boat rocked, the crew heard a noise outside the coxswain station. Upon investigating, they found the captain had fallen off the chair, with charts, side arm, chair and other paraphernalia flying.
The next time he came aboard the boat, the crew noted that he had strings tied to all the his gear and the chair was among the missing – never to be seen again. Not a word was said, but he had that special grin on his face which acknowledged the lesson learned.
just behind the coxswain’s station, or stay within the protected areas of the boat.
Contents of story from Greg Brenner.
More serious thoughts:
There must have been some divine guidance back in 1966 when selections were being made to staff the Mobile Riverine Force and specifically River Assault Squadron 9. Reflecting upon that time and the year that immediately followed, it is easy to say that Capt Horowitz’s selection as COMRIVRON 9 was a perfect fit.
Capt Horowitz’s approachable manner was the style needed to lead a group of 350 men into the uncharted waters of going to a war very different from those fought in the past. There were many unanswered questions by 18, 19, and 20 year olds, many who had never been away from home. The captain always had a smile and a greeting for everyone from the E2 fireman or seaman aboard the boats to the junior officers who worked under him.
He was unflappable and handled the pressures of command well. We understood he was under significant pressure from his commanding officer – a salty, and very demanding Commodore whose normal tone was more like a “growl”. Capt. Horowitz balanced the demands made of him with the needs of his men. He listened intently to all of his men, and was truly engaged with their concerns. His calming demeanor and even temperament in battle and as we prepared for operations were important to all of us.
I had the occasion to work closely with him for a short period during the first few months we were in Vietnam. River Assault Division 91, the Captain and his staff of 7 arrived in country with no equipment – the 25 boats we were to man had been delayed for 3 months. We were able to borrow 7 Vietnamese Navy assault boats – whose call signs were “Hogback” (1 through 7), and we began training operations with the Army.
Other members of the Captain’s staff and most of our boat crews rotated to other Brown water units in country. Captain Horowitz and I planned the navy’s portion of these training operation and rode those boats together for about 4 weeks. He allowed me to assume a lot of responsibility, provided guidance when needed, and was always supportive. He treated me well. He was my Commanding Officer, but he was also a friend.
He was respected by the boat crews. I recall taking one of the boat captains to mast before him for a minor infraction. He expressed his disappointment in the boat captain, and met out the punishment, but he never demeaned the individual. He was firm but kind.
I had not seen nor talked to Capt. Horowitz for a period of 30 years when we reconnected at a MRFA reunion in 1997. His warm greeting immediately erased the years that had passed. He welcomed me as he had 30 years earlier when reporting for duty. I enjoyed our subsequent exchange of annual holiday greetings, and talking to him on the phone. His optimism, wit, and humor were ever present despite enduring health issues
In the book, “Brown Water, Black Berets”, the author describes the essence of Captain Horowitz. The author describes how he would walk along the pontoon the night before a big operation and talk to the crews. The crews were always were interested in which boat he would ride. “You guys get the pleasure of my company” would be his proclamation to the boat he selected for the operation the next day.
“The pleasure of his company” is the essence of our remembrance of our departed Commanding officer. We, the members of River Assault Squadron 9, truly did have the pleasure of his company. We were proud to have him as our leader, and the gift of his friendship. We miss him.