Robert H. Stoner - used by permission
SEAL/MST OPERATIONS FROM SEA FLOAT/SOLID ANCHOR IN 1970
GMCM (SW) Robert H. Stoner (Ret.)
(See More Photos)
<---Do not Miss these
It was called Operation Sea Float/Solid Anchor by the U.S. Navy and Tran
Hung Dao III by the South Vietnamese; a joint US/Vietnamese attempt to inject an
allied presence into An Xuyen Province, 175 miles southwest of Siagon. Its
purpose was to extend allied control over the strategic Nam Can region of the Ca
Mau peninsula. Heavily forested, the area sprawled across miles of mangrove
swamp. The site selected was on the Cau Lon river, which connected to the Bo De
and Be Hap rivers. These were salt water rivers. Any fresh or drinking water
used afloat or ashore had to be brought in by ship. The entire area had been
solidly held by the Viet Minh against the French and by the Viet Cong against
the Siagon government (and its American ally).
reality was less grandiose: Commander, Naval Forces Vietnam (COMNAVFORV) begged,
borrowed, and shanghaied materials for this operation from various commands
, three 7th Fleet dock landing ships (LSD) began the off-load
of the 11 ammi barges which became my home between May and November of 1970.
There were approximately 700 officers and men on 11 barges; this did not include
the crews of a VNN large infantry landing craft (LCIL) or large landing ship
support (LSSL) and a USN gas turbine gunboat (PG) which provided protection. SEA
FLOAT had a support staff, galley, intelligence section, communications section,
supply department, a detachment of HA(L)-3 "Seawolf" UH-1B attack
helicopters, a motley collection of VNN-owned and American-advisored river
assault group (RAG) boats, two MST detachments with 2 light, 2 medium, 1 heavy
SEAL support craft (LSSC, MSSC, HSSC), 3 SEAL platoons, a UDT detachment, 6 to 8
coastal junks, some miscellaneous VNN and USN fast patrol craft (PCF)
"Swift" boats. I worked for MST Detachment "Charlie" and we
owned the HSSC, an MSSC, and both LSSC.
FLOAT as seen from the air in late 1969 or early 1970. The construction at the
top of the picture is the beginnings of the advanced tactical support base (ASTB)
SOLID ANCHOR (North bank of the Song Cau Lon). The swampy nature of the terrain
is clearly shown by the large areas of standing water. The helicopter pad for
the HA(L)-3 "Seawolf" gunships are on the left (West end), followed by
the fuel and ammunition barges, followed by the galley (North), tactical
operations center (South), administration (North), crew berthing (South), MST,
Beach Jumper, HA(L)-3 berthing (North), SEAL/UDT berthing (two center hooches),
and more crew berthing/supply (South). Showers and heads were on the ends of the
four East-facing barges. Photo: Ed Lefebvre
SOLID ANCHOR in 1971 (looking North). The Kit Carson Scout (KCS) camp is on the
East side (right) of the canal across from the base. The MST hooch is on the
right side of the South group of five hooches in the center; UDT was in the
upper end of the fourth hooch; the three SEAL platoons were in the North block
of five hooches in numbers 3 through 5; the tactical operations center was
directly East of the MST and SEAL hooches. The showers and head facilities are
between the upper and lower blocks of hooches to the West; a single small while
hooch in the center. Photo: Ed Lefebvre
SOLID ANCHOR in 1971 (looking South). The KCS camp is to the left of the canal.
Note the results of the defoliation to prevent ground attacks through the
mangrove swamp are very apparent in this shot. Water-filled bomb craters from
the B-52 strike that leveled Old Nam Can in 1968 are still evident. In order to
build the base on such soggy ground, the Navy brought in $6 million worth of
sand in barges to provide a foundation for everything here. Even then, they
still had to put interlocking steel pilings along the river and canal banks to
keep the tidal currents from eroding the sand about as quickly as it was put in
place. Photo: Ed Lefebvre
was no stranger to the strange river craft that plied the dangerous waters
around the barges; I had been transferred from the Mobile Riverine Force
(TF-117) in the Mekong River Delta below Siagon. After the MRF was disbanded in
October 1969, we'd taken our mother ship for a river division of RAG boats back
to Long Beach Naval Shipyard for decommissioning. I was transferred to Boat
Support Unit ONE in January 1970 and shortly found myself back in-country
serving with its deployed assets: the Mobile Support Teams (MST).
the time I arrived, the most reliable boat we had was the HSSC. The
"Heavy," actually a modified LCM-6 landing craft, mechanized, ran very
well. The same could not be said for our two LSSC and MSSC.
LSSC was built of aluminum. It was 24 feet long and about 9.5 feet wide. The
LSSC used an AN/PRC-25 or AN/PRC-77 FM radio, a small Raytheon search radar,
carried a .50 Browning M2HB and two 7.62mm M60 machineguns, a crew of 2 to 3,
could haul 6 to 7 SEALs, and was powered by two Ford 427 cubic-inch gasoline
engines which drove Jacuzzi water pumps. It drew about 18 inches of water when
fully loaded. It had ceramic armor tiles and flak curtains along the sides of
the crew compartment.
of our LSSC had been sunk; one had been completely submerged, but the other had
been only partially so. Their styrofoam innards (which provided sound
suppression and flotation) were either wholly or partially waterlogged. This
meant the LSSC couldn't get up to speed when we needed it most. When I arrived,
one boat was sitting on its trailer on the beach with two bad engines. Its front
bow patch had been removed to allow access to the waterlogged styrofoam. The
foam was being scraped-out by hand before re-foaming. The second LSSC only had
one bad engine and wasn't as badly waterlogged. (It hadn't been completely
sunk). This boat was used in a water taxi role until we got another engine for
MSSC was a cathedral hulled, aluminum, 36-foot, twin engined boat, with
MerCruiser outdrives. Its layout followed the lines of a commercial design. It
had an AN/VRC-46 FM radio, the same Raytheon radar as the LSSC, three .50 BMG
(or two .50 BMG and a 7.62mm GE Mini-gun) and four 7.62mm M60 machineguns. It
carried a crew of 5 and up to 18 SEALs. However, this MSSC was not operational
also. It had sucked a huge gulp of salt water at engine shutdown. (The Chevy 427
cubic-inch gasoline engines had a high-rise exhaust manifold for the underwater
exhaust to prevent water being sucked back into the engine at shutdown;
sometimes they worked, but not this time.)
HSSC was a much-modified LCM-6 landing craft. With General Motors 6-71 diesel
engines to push its flat-bottomed bulk, the HSSC carried armor and firepower to
make up for its lack of speed. There was a Mk 2 Mod 1 piggy-back 81mm mortar/.50
BMG gun behind the cut-down bow ramp. A helicopter landing pad had been welded
across the top of the well deck. A gun tub was attached to the front of the helo
pad. The gun tub contained a GAU-2B/A 7.62mm GE Mini-gun and an M40A1 106mm
recoilless rifle graced the center of the helo pad (by zeller). From below the helo pad, the
snouts of four M2HB .50 BMGs and four M60 7.62mm machineguns poked (two each per
side). A Raytheon radar topped the after deckhouse and a M2HB .50 BMG covered
the stern. Bar armor protected the after deckhouse, gun tub, and hull above the
waterline from B-40 (RPG-2) and RPG-7 shaped-charge anti-tank rockets. Heavy
flak blankets lined the inside of the well deck, engine room, and deckhouse to
protect the crew from flying splinters if the sides were penetrated by a rocket.
The only thing the crew couldn't defend against was a command-detonated
underwater mine (and the bad guys were very good with them, if they could
successfully lay them).
the barges had first been moored in the Cau Lon river by the site of old
(it had been flattened by airstrikes during and after the 1968 Tet Offensive),
special multiple-point moorings were required because the river currents
typically were between 6 and 8 knots. And, because the Cau Lon, Bo De, and Be
Hap rivers connected with the
South China Sea
the east and
the west, these currents were subject to reversal due to tidal effects. Current
reversal and water levels were significant factor in operations for several
the HSSC couldn't hold its own against the currents caused by the tides.
Operations had to be planned to travel when currents were weak or to go with the
current when the tide was going out or coming in.
all boats had to make sure they weren't stranded by the tide when working a
canal. The rule of thumb was: If the tide is running out, and you're in doubt,
operations in "
at the western mouth of the
especially hazardous. The main channel (which changed daily) was only 12 to 15
feet at high tide and 3 to 5 feet deep everywhere else outside the channel. At
low tide the water level dropped so that everything except the main channel
became acres and acres of mud flats.
things considered, this operational area was one of the most God-forsaken places
anyone could image; I could never understand why anyone would want it. It was a
full circle, 50-kilometer diameter free-fire zone.
never really liked the LSSC. It was cramped and crude. Two of our detachment
members, Jimmy Wells and "Wally" Wallace did, and they usually took
the LSSC out when needed. This time, for whatever the reason, I got tagged to go
on the LSSC with Jim and Wally for a solo night op; that is, we weren't using a
cover boat for backup.
SEALs had purchased some sampans from the local Vietnamese who lived in a
ramshackle bamboo and thatch village called the "Annex" (Ham Rong)
about 5 kilometers east from our base. They used the sampans to do very stealthy
insertions and extractions on canals that were too narrow and shallow for the
LSSC. The usual mode of carry was to tie two sampans across the rear engine
hatches and a third across the bow, if required. On this operation we only used
received notice of the op early in the afternoon. Briefing was at 1800. By 2030,
the two sampans had been secured to the LSSC. The three of us and six SEALs got
underway in the LSSC. The mission was a simple reconnaissance up a side canal
off one of the main canals that emptied into the river.
thing you could say about our op area: when the sun went down, it got dark very
fast. On this night were favored by a clear sky with lots of stars and no moon.
By 2200 we'd dropped off our SEALs and pulled back to act as a waterborne
guardpost to watch the mouth of the canal they'd entered. We tied up to a fish
stake that was near the middle of the canal. One of us manned the radio for an
hour; another watched the banks with an AN/PVS-2B starlight scope, and one slept
(if possible). The jobs were rotated hourly. As it turned out, no one slept this
night. It was probably a combination of adrenaline (as in my case) or maybe some
"stay awakes" someone had gotten from the SEAL corpsman. ("Stay
awakes" were stimulants designed to keep the user awake for long periods of
time. I only took the "stay awakes" once and it acted to put me to
sleep; in other people they acted to produce hallucinations. Because of their
unpredictable affects, most of our MST people didn't use these pills.)
on waterborne guardpost, no one smoked and the little talk done was in muffled
whispers. Any kind of noise carries a long way at night, especially across
water. The only break in the monotony was when there was a burst of radio static
on the handset every 30 minutes. This was done by the SEAL radioman by keying
the transmitter on the handset which indicated all was OK; our response was two
bursts in return.
came early at this time of year and we received word to extract about 0430. The
extraction point was another canal about a kilometer down the canal we were on.
We moved quietly downstream to them and they told us when they heard our muffled
engines. One of the SEALs flashed a blue-lens strobe light at us and we
confirmed we'd located them. We set the engine throttles to idle and the two
sampans came out to meet us. These were silently and quickly stowed. We made our
way back to the main river. Once on the main river, we hit the throttles and
were on our way home.
MSSC was fast and roomy. It carried 300 gallons of gasoline in four 75-gallon
bladders (paired) on either side of the hull at the waterline. The interior of
the well deck was covered with ceramic armor tiles and flak curtains. Its main
fault was the steering cables, electrical cables, and engine throttle controls
all ran down the starboard side instead of being split up. This almost caused
the loss of the boat when a B-40 rocket hit had severed the steering and
electrical cables (and just missed the fuel bladder!). Fortunately the engines
stayed in operation and SEAL Dave Bodkin crawled across the engine hatches
(under fire) to install the emergency tiller he used to steer the MSSC out of
the kill zone.
we got our MSSC, one of the main engines had to be replaced. About six weeks
after our arrival at base, our officer-in-charge (OIC) and three of us took it
down river to Square Bay, up the coast to Song Ong Doc, up river to Ca Mau, and
by canal to our mobile repair team (MRT) at Binh Thuy. The MRT detachment at
Naval Support Activity Binh Thuy worked very hard to keep all the boats
operational. They had 2 HSSC, 9 MSSC, a dozen LSSC, an LCPL, and a bunch of
lesser craft to work on.
being at Sea Float, Binh Thuy was really living in luxury: laundry facilities, a
decent bed with clean linen, and a cold beer after work. It was paradise! Our
only concern was for the security of our boat while it was being worked on; the
Vietnamese would steal anything that wasn't locked-up. (We learned they had even
stolen the 24-volt instrument panel light bulbs from the MSSC at Ca Mau on our
way to Binh Thuy.) All portable gear, weapons, and ammo were removed and locked
in a Container, Express (Conex) box. We took turns sleeping on the boat to make
sure we left with everything we came with.
new engine really made the MSSC move out. She was a joy to drive and handled
like a high-powered ski-boat when at full throttle. When we returned to Sea
Float, our sister MST detachment "Bravo" had returned. Now the SEALs
had two MSSC from which to operate.
was always on the lookout for more ways to beef up the firepower of the MSSC. We
considered the Mk 19 Mod 0 40mm automatic grenade launcher. However, all the
ammo we had was linked incorrectly and it jammed. We didn't have a linker-delinker,
so the Mk 19 went to storage in our Conex box.
managed to get a .50 AN/M3 Browning aircraft machine gun that our SEALs had
captured. At first, the intelligence officer was bound and determined it was a
Russian 12.7mm machinegun until I showed him it had been made at Springfield
SEALs then fought off attempts by the An Xuyen province chief to reappropriate
it. In the end, they gave it to me to spite the province chief. After swapping
and adding parts gotten from the base armory, I was ready to test fire the gun.
OIC and three of us took the MSSC up river, past the Annex, to test the gun. As
we were moving along, I was resting on the gun and looking at the beach.
Suddenly, I saw a puff of mud and debris and a big, black blob come cartwheeling
at us. Rocket! I'd seen where it came from and hit the triggers on the .50. The
aircraft gun let out a throaty roar and ate 2/3 of my 426-round ready service
ammo can before I knew it! Just as quickly we pulled out-of-range and my OIC
turned around and asked me what all the commotion was about. I told him someone
had just shot a rocket at us, they'd missed, and I had just splattered them with
the .50. He nodded and resumed conning the boat. My test fire had worked better
than planned; however, the lack of spare barrels forced me to use the aircraft
.50 for only special ops where its fast rate of fire (1,150 rounds a minute)
could be decisive.
through our tour, MST headquarters (Naval Special Warfare Group - NSWG) in
Siagon decided to upgrade the MSSC with the 7.62mm GE Mini-gun to replace the
after .50 BMG. The Mini-gun was an electrically powered Gatling gun scaled-down
from the M61 20mm Vulcan cannons used on fighter and attack jets. The gun could
fire 6,000 rounds a minute; however, the motor controller only allowed two rates
of 2,000 and 4,000 rounds a minute. The gun ran off the boat batteries and
carried 3,800 rounds of linked 7.62mm ammunition in its ready service magazine.
It had two triggers: the left for 2,000 rpm and the right for 4,000 rpm. The
gunner always started with the left first and then the right to keep the gun
from jamming; it sounded like a two-speed chainsaw when firing. Even with the
flash suppressors, there was a large muzzle blast and a near solid streak of
tracer heading towards the target. It was impressive to shoot, and it took an
impressive time reload the magazine. We learned not to get lead-fingered on the
triggers the hard way . . .
sister detachment, Bravo, had gotten relieved. Some relief personnel had just
arrived aboard and our OIC had arranged to show the new OIC the op area. We were
also going to test the new Mini-gun on the way back from
quickly made it down to
pointed out the places of interest, and started home. Suddenly, we started
taking sniper fire from the treeline. . .
happened in a blur. The OIC hit the throttles. The portside gunner and I were
taken by surprise by the acceleration and went sprawling on the deck. The after
gunner saw the muzzle flashes, hunkered-down, and let the Mini-gun rip! He
didn't let off on the triggers until he ran dry. Meanwhile, the other gunner and
I kept slipping and falling on the Mini-gun's spent cartridge brass as we tried
to get to our guns. When we'd almost make it, the OIC would fishtail the boat to
give the after gunner a better field of fire and we'd go down again!
rapidly cleared the ambush site and passed out-of-range. We then set about
reloading the Mini-gun and found out why it wasn't a good idea to run its
magazine dry. It took 10 minutes to link-up the 750-round sections of 7.62mm
ammo into the 3,800 round belt and stow it in the magazine, bring it through the
feed booster, and pull it trough the feed chute! Not a good idea while under
fire, so fire short bursts to conserve the supply became the rule.
longer-range missions, the MSSC was invaluable as a radio relay point and its
larger size allowed the carriage of larger sampans. A joint MSSC/LSSC/sampan
operation was organized such that the bigger sampans were loaded on the MSSC and
smaller sampans on the LSSC. The SEALs either rode the MSSC or split-up between
the boats as determined by the operation. Each boat provided cover for the other
during insertions or extractions.
was on the MSSC this night with all the sampans and SEALs. The LSSC would be our
cover-boat for the operation. We got to the insertion point and the LSSC went
in, while we covered, to establish right flank security on the canal. After
they'd secured the right flank, we nosed the boat in to take the left flank.
Once beached, we off-loaded the sampans. The SEALs continued in the sampans up
the canal that was too shallow for either boat to follow. After insertion both
boats retracted from the beach and moved to prearranged positions where they
could keep other canals and each other under observation. The SEALs on the beach
used the LSSC-to-MSSC-to-tactical ops center (Sea Float/Solid Anchor) radio
relay when help from rotary or fixed wing air support was needed.
the SEALs were mucking about in the jungle, the time on the boats was spent
keeping watch, sweating, monitoring the radio, sweating, and swatting mosquitoes
that were about in bloodthirsty swarms. This time was different. It was 0530 and
the sun had just made it over the horizon.
BEAR, BLACK BEAR, THIS IS TRADEWINDS. OVER."
IS TRADEWINDS. REQUEST EMERGENCY EXTRACTION! REQUEST EMERGENCY EXTRACTION!
sets of engines grumbled to life. Adrenaline pumped. Both boats got underway
headed for the emergency extraction point. Both boats went into the canal: LSSC
in the lead, MSSC providing cover. The canal narrowed.
CHARLIE, THIS IS BLACK BEAR. WE CANNOT PROCEED FARTHER. WE WILL SET UP HERE AND
ACT AS COMMO LINK. OVER."
SIERRA CHARLIE. BLACK BEAR CANNOT PROCEED FARTHER. WE WILL PROCEED AS FAR AS WE
CAN. CAN YOU DISENGAGE AND COME TO US? OVER."
THAT IS AFFIRMATIVE. WE ARE COMING OUT NOW. TRADEWINDS, OUT."
dragged. Eyes and ears strained to pick out signs of the LSSC or sampans.
Finally the LSSC emerged with the sampans in tow. The boats nestled together
against the beach as the sampans were stowed. There were no casualties, but some
of the SEALs weren't happy. As they came aboard the MSSC, the SEAL OIC slammed
his XM-177E2 (CAR-15) against the bulkhead in frustration.
DINKS WERE THREE (rice paddy) DIKE LINES OVER, AGAINST THE TREES, AND WE WERE
BOTH OUT OF EACH OTHER'S RANGE. THEY HAD AKs (Russian/Chinese assault rifles)
AND WE HAD M-16s, CAR-15s AND STONER'S (a
5.56mm belt-fed machinegun). WE TRADED ROUNDS FOR AN HOUR. NO ONE COULD HIT ZIP!
I'LL FIX THAT NEXT TIME!" (He did. Next time he took a silenced, XM-21
7.62mm sniper rifle to the field.)
everyone boarded, the boats got underway and out to the main river. From there
they proceeded at maximum speed back to base.
HSSC was a fortress. It had firepower. It had armor. In short, just the kind of
boat the bad guys loved to hate (which they did). There was a big canal just
past the Annex that had been begging for exploration for some time. It was deep
enough for the HSSC even at low tide, and there were places where we could turn
around (the HSSC was 56 feet long). This evening's adventure was to insert and
extract a Beach Jumper Unit "Duffel Bag Team." (This team planted and
monitored vibration- and body heat-activated sensors that helped track movements
of the bad guys around our base.) On the way out, we were to play some
"Wandering Soul" tapes the Psychological Warfare boys had dreamed up
to terrorize the guerillas. The line was the guerillas would become so
frightened, they'd come over to the government side. We never got to hear the
tape nor was the "Duffel Bag Team" ever able to plant their
guerilla-tracking sensors. We got ambushed first.
general quarter's station was the forward 81mm mortar/.50 BMG mount. Mike Meils
was the starboard forward .50 gunner. "D.J." Desjardins was on the
Mini-gun. Don King was on the after .50 by his engine room. Our OIC Lt. (jg)
Fulkerson and Qunicy Butler were driving from the coxswain's flat in the
deckhouse. We'd loaded the 81mm mortar and 106mm recoilless rifle with
anti-personnel flechette (beehive) rounds. Each contained 2,000 or 6,000 tiny
steel nails with fins. When fired, they acted like a gigantic shotgun. They were
ideal for ambush situations.
entered the canal. It was a low tide and the water was out. The banks of the
canal were actually even with the top of the helicopter pad (which meant the
water was approximately 8 to 10 feet below the top of the bank). My gun was
covering the left bank and the 106mm was covering the right. I had gone over to
the starboard forward .50 gunner to ask a question about something. I remembered
one of the PsyWar boys was sitting immediately in back of him when there were
two very fast explosions and the world changed from black to white.
looked for my gunner and the PsyWar guy; both were gone. I looked at my gun and
it seemed to be a half mile away and lit-up like day by the muzzle flashes of
the .50 machineguns. I remember a crazy rationalization going through my mind:
IS INSANE. THAT GUN MOUNT IS LIT-UP LIKE A CHRISTMAS TREE. YOU COULD GET KILLED
UP THERE! NOPE. THOSE .50s HAVE GOTTEN THEIR HEADS DOWN BY NOW. BETTER GET UP
THERE AND GET THE GUNS WORKING OR YOU'RE GOING TO LOOK REAL STUPID IN FRONT OF
was at the guns in what seemed to be two giant steps. The 81mm beehive went
first and was followed by 150 rounds of .50 armor-piercing incendiary (API),
incendiary (INC), and armor-piercing incendiary tracer (API-T). We made it out
of the kill zone and around a bend in the canal where we beached.
SEAWOLF. THIS IS BLACK BEAR. SCRAMBLE! SCRAMBLE! OVER."
BEAR, SEAWOLF. ROGER SCRAMBLE. HAVE TWO CHICKS ON THE WAY (TO) YOUR LOCATION.
I discovered the mortar and .50 could not fire forward; the bow ramp had not
been cut down low enough. I thought:
THE MINI-GUN IS JAMMED. THE 106 MAY BE SHRAPNEL DAMAGED. THE TWO FORWARD .50s
CAN'T COVER THE FRONT OF THE BOAT. MY GUNS CAN'T FIRE BECAUSE THE BOW RAMP IS IN
THE WAY. SO JUST ME, MY M3 "GREASE GUN" (.45 submachine gun), AND
THREE 30-ROUND MAGAZINES ARE GOING TO HOLD OFF THE WHOLE NORTH VIETNAMESE
heard helicopters in the area and saw their flashing anti-collision beacons.
BEAR, SEAWOLF ONE-FOUR. WE THINK WE ARE CLOSE TO YOUR POSITION. CAN YOU
SEAWOLF. WATCH FOR MY STROBE. OVER."
didn't register with me immediately what the radio had said until I caught the
white flash of the strobe light in my peripheral vision. And I thought:
"DAMN. IF THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHERE WE WERE, THEY SURE DO NOW!"
BEAR, SEAWOLF ONE-FOUR. WE WILL COVER YOUR EXTRACTION. ARE YOU READY?
SEAWOLF. EXTRACTING NOW. OUT."
HSSC backed off the bank and we headed back the way we'd come. I watched the
banks for any kind of movement. We're starting through the place we got hit
before. Good. Almost through . . . BLAM! BLAM! Hit again. Same drill: Return
fire; get past kill zone; get beyond bend in river; beach the boat.
BEAR, SEAWOLF. WE SAW YOU GET HIT. ARE YOU OK? OVER."
IS SEAWOLF. UNDERSTAND YOU ARE OK. WE WILL STRAFE BOTH SIDES OF THE BANK WITH
ROCKETS AND MINI-GUNS. OUT."
the next fifteen minutes the two UH-1B gunships raked the ambush site with
2.75-inch rockets and Mini-guns. Meanwhile, our OIC had asked me whether we had
something special for our friends to remember us by. I said yes, and broke out
eight white phosphorous (WP) rounds for the mortar.
the gunships finished, my forward gunner and I dumped four "Willie
Pete" mortar rounds on both sides of the ambush site. The gunships orbited
overhead and covered us until we arrived at the main river.
at Sea Float everyone had heard about the ambush. Lots of anxious faces greeted
us as we tied up. Everyone was still running on adrenaline but no one was hurt.
We went to the MST hut to debrief. At debrief, the OIC asked who was screaming
just after we'd been hit on the way in. D.J. confessed he was the one, but there
was a reason:
WE GOT HIT, I OPENED UP WITH THE MINI-GUN. I GOT OFF TWO OR THREE BURSTS AND IT
JAMMED. I GRABBED A LAW (M72 light anti-tank weapon) AND IT MISFIRED. I GRABBED
MY M-16 AND WENT THROUGH TWO MAGAZINES BEFORE IT JAMMED. I COULDN'T CLEAR IT. I
WAS SO FRUSTRATED THE ONLY THING I COULD THINK TO DO WAS POINT MY FINGER AND
YELL: 'BANG! BANG! TAKE THAT YOU SON-OF-A-B***H!' AND I THREW THE EMPTY
MAGAZINES AT THE BEACH!"
finally figured out what it was the bad guys had used on us when the sun came
up. From all the leaves, twigs, and garbage it was evident the culprits were
Claymore-type, remotely-detonated directional mines set in the trees and set to
fire on "Swift" boat patrols at high tide. We had crossed them up,
because we'd gone through at low tide. When they fired at the sound of our
engines, the mines on both banks shot over the top of us. Twice! Final
confirmation of the type came when I found a piece of scorched olive-green sheet
metal with Chinese characters about six feet from where I'd been talking to my
gunner the night before.
Note: The radio traffic in this narrative are re-constructions of dialog. They
are for dramatic purposes. For Detachment "Charlie" the actual call
sign was "Black Bear." SEALs were always "Tradewinds." The
HA(L)-3 call sign was "Seawolf," but the number is made up (Detachment
1 used two digit numbers beginning at "1" plus a number between zero
and 9, with 6 indicating the commanding officer's bird). The LSSC call signs are
also made up for dramatic effect.
SEA FLOAT/SOLID ANCHOR
FLOAT was established
. SEA FLOAT moved ashore to SOLID ANCHOR in mid-September of
1970. The SOLID ANCHOR base was heavily rocketed and mortared in late January
1971. SOLID ANCHOR was formally turned over to Vietnamese Navy on
April 1, 1971
last Americans left SOLID ANCHOR on
happened to SEA FLOAT? After the Americans moved ashore from SEA FLOAT to SOLID
ANCHOR in September, the empty barges became the object of scavengers from the
village called the "Annex" (Ham Rong) about 5 kilometers to the east.
Building materials used to construct the hooches were recycled by the locals. On
the night of
, the advanced tactical support base at BREEZY COVE
(Song Ong Doc) was destroyed by mortars, recoilless rifles, and a company-sized
ground attack. The old SEA FLOAT barges were used to rebuild a New Song Ong Doc
several miles up river from the old base. In June 1971, the remaining barges
were moved to Ca Mau.