River Assault Squadron 13 History

March 1968 to December 1968

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Ref: OPNAVINST 5750.12A

I. Command Organization
(1) Commanding Officers:

a. River Assault Squadron 13
P. Blundell, CDR. USN – 14 Apr 68 to 4 Dec 68
E. J. Sottak, CDR. USN – 4 Dec 68 to

b. River Assault Division 131
C. T. Vaught, LT, USN – 21 May 68 to 14 Dec 68
P. W. Wolfgang, LT, USN – 14 Dec 68 to

c. River Assault Division 132
H. M. Alexander, LT, USN – 2 Jun 68 to

(2) Homeport – San Diego, California

(3) Mission of Command – The basic objective of RAS 13 was to support the Mobile Riverine Force in South Vietnam. The primary mission of RAS 13 was the safe transportation of men and material to and from an area of operation in a riverine environment and the support of those forces in the area of operations. All assault craft used by RAS 13 were designed with this basic mission in mind. In addition to transportation of troops and equipment, RAS 13 performed a variety of secondary missions such as interdiction of hostile water traffic, security for the Mobile Riverine Base, waterborne re-supply of assault forces, mine sweeping operations, direct and indirect fire support to assault forces, blockades of hostile beaches and waterways, and riverine armed reconnaissance element operations.

(4) Composition of Command:

a. RAS 13 Staff –
5 Officers
12 Enlisted

b. RAD 131 –
3 Officers
191 Enlisted
13 Armored Troop Carriers – ATC
2 Howitzer Monitors – MON(H)
1 Flame-thrower Monitor – MON(F)
2 Command/ Communication Boats – CCB
3 Assault Support Boats – ASPB

c. RAD 132 –
3 Officers
177 Enlisted
13 ATC
1 MON(H)
1 MON(F)
1 CCB
1 Refueler – ATC(R)
4 ASPB

II. Chronology of Highlights:

18 MAR 68 – The first 30 personnel assigned to river Assault Squadron THIRTEEN arrived in the Republic of South Vietnam. A training cycle for RAS 13 personnel was commenced at NIOTC Mare Island, California.

14 APR 68 –
RAS 13 was commissioned in San Diego, California with P. Blundell, CDR, USN, 569848/1100 as Commander (CTU 117.2.3)

22 APR 68 –
The first four RAS 13 Armored Troop Carriers arrived in RVN

29 APR 68 –
ATC-131-1 through ATC-131-4 complete outfitting and tests in Vung Tau, RVN and were chopped to RAS 11 for operation.

15 MAY 68 –
RAS 13 personnel experienced first casualty due to hostile fire. RENN, F.A., EN3, B20 52 83, was wounded while operating with RAS 11.

16 MAY 68 –
R.B Conaty, ENS, USNR, 713370/1105 was promoted to LTJG

18 MAY 68 –
ATC-131-5 through ATC-131-8 completed outfitting and tests in Vung Tau, RVN and were chopped to RAS 11 for operation.

21 MAY 68 –
C. T. Vaught, Lt, USN, 635412/1100, Commander River Assault Division 131 (CTE 117.2.3.1) arrived in RVN and took command of ATC 131-1 through ATC 131-8.

2 JUN 68 –
CDR Blundell and H.M. Alexander, LT, USN 618849/1100, Commander River Assault Division 132 (CTE 117.2.3.2) arrive in RVN.

5 JUNE 68 –
ATC-131-9 through ATC-131-13 completed outfitting and testing and join RAD 131 aboard USS Bexar in Vung Tau, RVN.

10 JUNE 68 –
3 JUL 68 – TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.1 conducted combat operations in and around Gin Dinh, Long An, and Bien Hoa Provinces supporting Vietnamese Regional Forces and elements of the 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division. Supply and support was provided by USS Indra (ARL-37) and USS Windham County (LST-1170) in the vicinity of Nha Be. During this period RAS 13 made it’s first solid contact with enemy forces on 16 JUN in Western Bien Hoa Province.

4 JUL 68
– M.L. Stephens, ENS, USN, 718950/1100. Promoted to LTJG.

5 JUL – 23 JUL 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.1 conducted combat operations in and around Dinh Tuong and Kien Hoa Provinces supporting Vietnamese Regional Forces and elements of the 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry. Supply and support was provided by USS Windham County (LST-1170) in vicinity of Dong Tam. On 5 July R. Meek, ENS, USNR 715052/1105, was promoted to LTJG. On 7 July, O.G. Wise, BM1 524 51 50, USN, re-enlisted for 6 years. On 13 July TE 117.2.3.1 was ambushed while operating in Western Dinh Tuong Province at “Snoopy’s Nose” (T-131-8 and T-131-13 while beached at the entrance hit mines and were sunk ). On 14 July Lt Alexander arrived in Dong Tam with ATC-132-1, 8, 10, and 13.

15 JUL – 30 AUG 68
– P.W. Wolfgang, Lt, USN, established 117.2.3.1 detachment at Nha Be for the support of 6/31st Battalion of 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry.|

24 JUL – 5 AUG 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.1 supported 439th BN of 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry in and around Long An and Hau Nghia Provinces, primarily in Ben Luc District along the Rach Vam Co. Dong. Supply and support was provided by Army elements of the Ben Luc Brigade and USS Windham County (LST-1170) at the Song Van Co/Song Soi Rap Junction. This period of operation was the longest sustained operation conducted by any CTF 117 element to date. During this period TE 117.2.3.1 units were ambushed three times and mortared once.

3 AUG 68
– W.R. Taylor, BM2 USN, 691 72 57 was killed in action while operating with RAS 9.

7 AUG – 12 SEP 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.1 along with elements of TE 117.2.3.2 conducted combat operations in and around Gia Dinh, Bien Hoa, and Long An Provinces supporting 7th ARVN elements and elements of 1st and 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry. Supply and support was provided by USS Mercer (APB-39), USS Windham County (LST-1170), USS Satyr (ARL-23) and USS Vernon County (LS1161) in vicinity of Nha Be and Song Soi Rap/Song Vam Co Junction. On 29 August TU 117.2.3 split into three detachments – Lt Alexander set up a detachment in Can Giuoc to support ARVN elements and 3/39th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry; Lt Vaught took charge of TF Starlight – an interdiction operation with elements of 4/39th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry in Southern Gia Dinh and Northern Long An Provinces; remainder of TU 117.2.3 units continue to support remaining 4/39th elements in Gia Dinh and Long An Provinces. On 6 September Lt Vaught’s Starlight element was ambushed in Northern Long An Province and returned to MRB on 7 September.

12 SEP – 27 SEP 68
– TU 117.2 and TE 117.2.3.1 conducted combat operations in and around Dinh Tuong and Kien Hoa Provinces supporting elements of the 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry and Vietnamese Regional Forces. Supply and support was provided by USS Vernon County (LST-1161), USS Satyr (ARL-23) APL-26 and APL-30 in the vicinity of Dong Tam. Lt Alexander continued operations staged out of Can Giuoc and Nha Be. On 22 September TE 117.2.3.1 was ambushed in Western Dinh Tuong Province at “Snoopy’s Nose”.

29 SEP – 6 OCT 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.2 conducted combat operation’s in and around Vinh Binh Province supporting elements of 14th ARVN Regiment. Support and supply were provided by USS Vernon County (LST-1161) USS Satyr (ARL-23), APL-26 and APL-30 in the vicinity of Vinh Long. TE 117.2.3.1 was assigned to Base Defense on 30 September. On 5 October LTJG Stephens with the Can Giuoc-Nha Be detachment was ambushed.

8 OCT – 17 OCT 68
TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.2 supported elements of the 7th ARVN and elements of 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry in and around Dinh Tuong, Vinh Long, Sa Dec, Kien Hoa, and Go Cong Provinces. Supply and support was provided by USS Vernon County (LST-1161), USS Mercer (APB-39), USS Satyr (ARL-23), USS Nueces (APB-40), APL-26 and APL-30. On 10 October Lt Alexander’s detachment at Nha Be – Can Giuoc returned to CTU 117.2.3. On 14 October CTF 117 realigned MRG “A” and MRG “B” support ships making MRG “B” the more mobile force of the two.

18 OCT – 1 NOV 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.2 conducted combat operations in and around Vinh Long, Vinh Binh, and Phuong Dinh Provinces supporting 9th ARVN, 21st ARVN, Vietnamese Regional Forces, and 4th Battalion VNMC. Support and supply were provided by USS Mercer (APB-39, USS Neuces (APB-40), USS Satyr (ARL-23) and USS Caroline County (LST-525) in the vicinity of Can Tho.

2 NOV 68
– A-132-2,3 and 4 joined RAS 13 at Long Xuyen completing the squadron’s allotment of boats. T-131-1 and T-131-2 commenced RAS 13-overhaul cycle at YRBM in Dong Tam.

3 NOV – 22 NOV 68
– TU 117.2.3 chopped boats to TU 117.2.4 and TF 116 for interdiction and assault operations in Kien Giang Provinces. These units were a part of the newly formed OPERATION SEA LORDS. Support and supply for this operation was provided at a forward command post at Rach Soi headed by Lt R. Tallman. At the close of assault phase of the operation 2 ATC’s, 2 ASPB’s and 1 CCB remained in Rach Gia – Rach Soi area with TF 116 working with an interdiction force. On 5 November 68, GMG2 James A. Myers, Jr., USN 290 49 71, was killed by hostile fire in the Rach Gia – Rach Soi area. On 22 November A-131-1 and A-132-1 were chopped to TF 116 for interdiction operations on the Vinh Te canal Southwest of Chow Duc on the Cambodian border.

23 NOV – 29 NOV 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.2 and units from TE 117.2.4.2 conducted combat operations in Northeastern Ba Xuyen Province. Supporting elements of 1/32 Battalion 21st ARVN Infantry Div., 4/14 Battalion 9th ARVN Infantry Div., 2 companies of the Ba Xuyen Regional Force, 1 company Ba Xuyen PRU’s and 15 Ba Xuyen National Police teams. Support and supply were provided by the USS Mercer (APB-39) and USS Satyr (ARL-23) anchored in the vicinity of the AO. The operation was a riverine assault and waterborne blockade of Cu Lao Tron, Cu Lao Dung, and Cu Lao Con Coc. This operation was the first true test of Operation Sea Lords with the combined forces of TF 115, 116, 117 and VN Navy elements participating in one of the largest waterborne blockades attempted. The blockade was considered as 95% effective.

30 NOV 68
– Lt Alexander and RAC of RAD 132 were underway for Dong Tam to commence interdiction operations in Kien Tuong, Hau Nghia, and Long An Provinces. (Operation GIANT SLINGSHOT under control of CTF 116 and results not available to CTU 117.2.3)

4 DEC 68
– CDR E.J. Sottak, 543503/1100, USN relieved CDR P. Blundell as Comrivron Thirteen on the USS Mercer (APB-39) at 1000hrs.

5 DEC 68
– TU 117.2.3 Units were chopped to TU 117.2.4 for combat operations in Choung Thien Province.

14 DEC 68
– Lt. P.W. Wolfgang relieved Lt. C.T. Vaught as Comrivdiv 131. Lt Vaught assumed CSO RAS 13.

17 DEC – 26 DEC 68
– TU 117.2.3 and TE 117.2.3.1 conducted combat operations in Southern An Xuyen Province supporting 2 companies 4th Mobile Strike Force Command and UDT/ODD teams from TG 117.1, TG 117.2 and TF 76. Supply and support were provided by USS Mercer (APB-39), USS Satyr (ARL-23), and USS Iredell County (LST-839). The objective of the operation was the destruction of a series of barricades located on the Song Cua Lon. This operation, requiring over 75 miles of open sea transit for the RAC was the deepest penetration by units of TF 117 into the Ca Mau peninsula and the first assault from seaward by riverine forces.

III. Closing Comments:

To date I could not receive any more information from the Navy. The reason being either no records were available or they are still classified. I hope this will be of interest to the members of the MRFA. See After Action Report for River Assault Squadron 11

Ralph Bigelow T-131-8