Command History of River Assault Squadron Eleven

Commissioning September 1967 to December 1967


September 67    October 67    November 67    December 67

September 1967

On 2 and 3 September, the squadron participated in MRF operations designed to provide security in the Can Giouc District of Long An Province while the Vietnamese Presidential Elections were being conducted. The district had a significantly higher percentage of eligible voter participation then the remainder of the country.

On 5 September RivDiv-111 debarked the USS Whitfield Cty (LST-1169) for USS Colleton (APB-36), and changed assignments from general support to support for the 3rd-60th infantry, RivDiv-112 assumed Mobile Riverine Base Defense supporting the 3rd-60th. ComRivRon 11 And the Squadron Staff remained on the USS Colleton.

The Squadron encountered its heaviest action to date on 15 September while lifting 3rd-60th Infantry to beaches along the Ba Rai River in the Cam Son Secret Zone, Dinh Tuong Province. River Division 111 was ambushed along a two and one half-kilometer stretch of the river by main force Viet Cong employing 57mm recoilless rifles, automatic weapons, RPG-2 and RPG-7 fire. Eighteen assault craft sustained battle damage, although none was put out of action. RivDiv-111 withdrew from the area to regroup, and then pushed through The ambush site to land troops at designated beaches. Total Navy casualties in this action were three killed and seventy-seven wounded, including thirty-five MEDEVAC. The RivDiv-111 Chief of Staff Officer, LTJG George Hawkins, as result of the wounds suffered was subsequently evacuated to CONUS. As a result of the 15-17 September engagement on the Ba Rai River, ComRivRon 11 LCDR Francis E. Rhodes Jr, and BM1 Carroll E. Dutterer received the Navy Cross. Silver Stars were awarded to SN Marc S. James, GMGC Albert R. Cooksey, GMG2 James E. Elkins, BM2 Donald Gregerson, BM2 William B. Hunter, GMGC J.L. Kelley, BMC Robert D. Kernechel, LT. Ray Riesgo, and BM1 Benjamin F. Shivley,

Later in the month, on the 27th and 28th, RivDiv-111 was again subjected to intensive enemy fire, this time on the Ben Tre River in Kien Hoa Province, Two ATC’s of RivRon Nine were Minesweeping ahead of the column of river boats when a barrage of recoilless rifle fire left three Navy men dead and six wounded on the minesweepers. Lt. Ray Riesgo, ComRivDiv 111, sustained minor wounds in this operation from small arms fragments.

October 1967

The Squadron relocated with the Mobile Riverine Base from Dong Tam to Vung Tau on 10 October and supported Coronado V1 in the Rung Sat Special Zone from 11-18 October.

Between 21 and 23 October the Mobile Riverine Force undertook a mission in Can Giouc District of Long An Province similar to that, which occurred during the Vietnamese Presidential Election. On this Occasion security was provided for voters participating in the RVN Lower House Elections on 22 October. Again, a substantial percentage of the district’s eligible voters went to the polls.

November 1967

November marked the appearance of the 5th Infantry Battalion , Vietnamese Marine Corps, as the third maneuver battalion of the Mobile Riverine Force. This elite battalion was supported in its initial employment by RivDiv-112 in the Cam Son and Ban Long Secret Zones, Dinh Tuong Province on 9-11 November.

Prior to the introduction of the Vietnamese Marines, RivRon 11 had participated in the opening phases of operation Coronado IX, in southeast Giao Duc District, Dinh Tuong Province.

From 18-24 November, Operations Coronado IX staged into VC Base areas 470/471 in western Dinh Tuong and eastern Kien Phong Provinces. This operation was in conjunction with US/ARVN Operation Kien Giang 9-1, and included elements of the 7th and 9th ARVN Divisions. RivDiv 111 Supported the 3rd-47th Infantry, and RivDiv 112 lifted the 5th Battalion, VNMC.

RivRon 11 assault divisions supported operations from 27 November until the end of the month designed to clear the waterways of Cai Lay and Long Dinh Districts, Dinh Tuong province, of barriers to commercial traffic. Bridge wreckage, two earthen barriers, and two stake barriers were removed from the Xang Canal, once an important waterway in the Province before the Viet Cong Interdiction.

December 1967

On 2 December ComRivRon 11 and Staff and Division personnel participated in the COMRIVFLOT ONE/COMRIVSUPPRON SEVEN Change of-Command Ceremonies.

The period 4-6 December marked the continuation of Operation IX in western Dinh Tuong And eastern Kien Phong Provinces. River Assault Division 112 moved through an intensive RPG-2 RPG-7 and recoilless rifle ambush at 0800H on the 4th of December to beach the Vietnamese Marines 5th Battalion on the enemy’s flank on the upper Rach Ruong. An all day battle commenced with the Viet Cong 502 Local Force Battalion and local guerrillas. RivDiv 112 supported the Marines from the waterway all day and night, and sustained several recoilless rifle/B-50 rocket hits. As RivDiv 111 proceeded up the same waterway to beach 3rd-47th Infantry, the assault craft also came under heavy attack. Total Navy casualties for the all day encounter were two killed and sixty eight wounded, including the RivDiv 111 Chief Staff Officer LTJG David Zoller, Viet Cong losses were two hundred and sixty-eight killed by body count. On 5th December, RivDiv-112 lifted the Vietnamese Marines, who suffered heavy casualties, back to Dong Tam to reorganize and await replacements. LT Norman Wells, ComRivDiv 112; received the Silver Star for his courage and leadership in this bitter engagement . BM3 Keith E. Heard and BM2 Robert B. Durrett also were awarded the Silver Star.

On 14 December, Squadron units utilized a new riverine tactic: the employment of a Riverine Armored Reconnaissance Element (RARE). This initial (RARE) consisted of two ASPB’s. two Monitor’s, and two ATC’s, with Armored personnel Carrier Mounted flamethrowers. The (RARE) element preceded RivDiv-112 up the Ba Rai River into the Cam Son Secret Zone, the site of several murderous ambushes of the assault craft. If the RARE developed any significant contact, RivDiv-112 was to beach the Vietnamese Marines short of the ambush to exploit the situation. Although the Mobile Riverine Force remained in the Cam Son Secret Zone until 16 December, no significant contact was attained.

On 17 December, the MRF relocated from the confluence of the Tien Giang and Co Chien rivers to Dong Tam. ComRivRon-11 and Staff debarked USS Colleton and moved ashore to Dong Tam. RivDiv-111 moved from the Colleton to the USS Westchester County (LST-1167).

Operation Coronado IX continued on 20 December with RivDiv-111 lifting two companies of the 3rd-47th Infantry to night ambush positions along the Xang Canal. RivDiv-112 continued to support the Vietnamese Marines. While transiting the Xang Canal in the early morning of 21 December, ASPB 111-4, a lead minesweeper, was mined resulting in one USN Killed and three USN wounded. The boat hull was dished in but not holed and the boat returned to the Mobile Riverine Base under it’s own power.

During the Christmas truce period, ten ASPB’s, from the squadron combined with PBR’s From TF-116.3.1 to interdict Viet Cong re supply routes between Kien Hoa and Dinh Tuong Provinces. On 26 December, a command-detonated mine exploded approximately a beam of A-111-1, causing no casualties and light damage to the boat.

Riverine Strike operations were again mounted on the morning of 28th December, lasting until the end of the month. The operation focused on the Cam Son/ Ban Long Secret Zones, and included water interdiction and saturation patrolling in Ham Long, Cai Lay, and the Long Dinh Districts. No significant contact was made….