James Truehart, GMGC - SBU-22 History


(01-05-07) James Truehart, GMGC - USNR-Retired  Just stumbled onto your website and wanted to get in on the "action".  I was a member of the unit as a Reservist. I was a plank owner of Special Boat Unit 22 (formerly Coastal River Division 22) in Algiers, La. I retired as a Chief Gunner's Mate Guns from the unit in 1990. I very well remember Cdr. Foster and his words brought back many memories. And for "Mack" McGuckin, thanks for sharing those PBR photos from the Pearl River and the "fish fry". The unit was founded through the efforts of former Louisiana Congressman F. Edward Hebert and was commissioned December 1972. In fact, during the summer of 1972 I used some of my personal vacation time from work to help the unit get up and running. It was Congressman Hebert that got me released from my Reserve Destroyer and re-assigned to CRD-22. To all former, current members of the Special Boat Units, you know how special the units are, regardless of rating or rank. To the future members, carry on the legacy. From time to time i would like to add more information to the history of Special Boat Unit 22. Til then, "If you ain't a River Rat, you ain't (you should know the rest)". James Truehart, GMGC - USNR-Retired

(02-03-08)    Another SBU-22 story: I can't remember the year, though I should, as it was in February when the first accidental explosion of the Space Shuttle occurred soon after lift off. SBU-22 had put some of its PBR's, Mini-ATC's, jeeps, weapons, spare engineering parts, etc. onto U.S. Airforce C-5 Cargo planes to test how fast we could be mobilized, packed, and flown to the Panama Canal Zone. After a few days there, we had been out in the boats all day (unit members as well as some Navy seals) and were back in the club on base and were eating and watching the television when we could barely hear that the Space Shuttle had exploded. Some of the guys asked the civilian Panamanian bartender to turn off the juke box and turn the tv up, at which point he refused to do so. Guess what happened? A couple of the SEALS got up, unplugged the juke box and demanded the tv be turned up or the would do it themselves. He was outnumbered by about 35 U.S. Navy personnel, so he "agreed" to turn the tv sound up. Not another word did he say. Guess he felt that the best thing to do in order to "maintain diplomatic relations between Panama and the U.S.A.". At the time, the canal still belonged to the U.S.A. Our unit was also sent down there as a show of force and to escort ships and military ships through the canal from both entrances through the entire canal. We couldn't tell anyone where we were going, but showing back up in New Orleans, La. in February with suntans was explained with the truth later.

Jim Truehart, GMGC-USNR-Retired

Yeah, Being a Gunnersmate at CRD-22 and SBU-22 was heaven. Got to shoot guns, repair them, clear mis-fires from 81mm mortars, etc. plus got to drive the boats. Hated to give up my boat (PBR287) when I made E-7, as a Boat Captain, but still got my hands on the wheel enough to enjoy it. We trained hard and can remember on my boat, me a boat captain, E-5 GMG my gunner, E-5 EN as my sngineman, and a SN as my seaman. We were all qualified and the unit said they had to break us up as other boats needed qualified personnel. We didn't like it as we had worked so hard to become one crew, but it worked out okay as the GMG and EN got their own boats, too. The SN got qualified, too, and madd 3rd class. Jim T.

(05-23-2011)  A note from John Foster: When talking about an op at Eglin where my boat captain overaled an embarked army officer: "Damn right! When I put a boat captain in charge, I give him full authority to take charge and use his initiative to get the job done! Then I back him up completely, and he knows I will. Works every time."  - John Foster