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MRF Summary Report - January 1969


January 1969

During January, Mobile Riverine Force units sought out and engaged the enemy throughout the Delta region. Offensive operations consisted of frequent applications of small unit force over wide areas. This strategy is intended to have major effect toward the breakup of communist infrastructure, enhancement of pacification, disruption of enemy plans, and the demoralization of enemy forces.

The activities of MRG ALPHA remained essentially stable as troop lift operations were continued mainly in Kien Hoa Province in support of the 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry. Constant pressure is being applied to enemy forces there in advancement of the accelerated pacification effort. Attrition against enemy forces was again significant, yielding a daily average of 14 Viet Cong killed. MRG BRAVO, operating mainly with the 3rd and 4th Battalions, Vietnamese Marine Corps, advanced into Chuong Thien, Kien Giang, Phong Dinh and northern Ba Xuyen provinces. Detached units of the MRF conducted coordinated operations in the northern Delta as components of Operation SEA LORDS campaigns. Troops aboard these units have discovered large quantities of enemy weapons and supplies cached along river banks.

The following table of MRF boat assignments provides an overview of the diversity of MRF activity during a typical day in January:

[ At this point I am sorry to say that Page 2 is missing. ]

Twenty-four river assault craft of RAD's 92 and 111, two U.S. Infantry battalions, eight PBR's and Vietnamese unit participated in this operation which was targeted against Viet Cong guerrilla and swimmer/sapper units located on the eastern end of the island. The island population was temporarily located to three collection points, people were screened by Vietnamese National Police, issued new I.D. cards, and exposed to Civic Action Programs. Meanwhile, river craft assumed blocking stations and the island was swept by infantry units seeking Viet Cong. A total of 1,353 people were gathered at the three collection points, and 70 Viet Cong were apprehended as the operations ended on 7 January.

Rotation of River Assault Division assignments took place during the month. On 12 January, boats of RAD 91 assumed a stand down status preliminary to the planned turnover of 25 river assault craft to the Vietnamese Navy on 1 February. VNN personnel aboard RAD 91 units have undergone on-the-job training since early December. RAS 13 joined MRG ALPHA and RAD 132 was relieved by RAD 92 as the assault force of Operation GIANT SLINGSHOT. RAD 132 returned to the Mobile Riverine Base and supported the 4/47th Infantry Battalion. RAD 131 assumed utility duties and supported the 3/34th Artillery Battalion and RAD 111 came off the line and assumed base defense duties.

On 10 January, at 2332, units of MRG ALPHA went to General Quarters as a mortar attack was launched against Dong Tam base from the south bank of the My Tho River. Although none of the ships were hit, 6 Army men were wounded and 10 helos at Dong Tam were damaged. MRB ships and Army artillery returned and suppressed the enemy fire.


Reconnaissance operations in enemy base area 483 in southern Kien Giang Province, begun on 26 December, continued into January. Eighteen river assault craft of RAS 15, working in coordination with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, Vietnamese Marine Corps, conducted patrol and troop landing activity along the Can Cao Canal. Ground contact with enemy forces was sporadic throughout the campaign which lasted until 7 January. Despite intelligence reports of significant enemy forces in the area, contact with friendly forces was avoided as the enemy employed hit and run tactics. On 1 January at 1745 an enemy initiated firefight took a heavy toll among troops and sailors aboard assault craft. Three of the river boats took B-40 rocket and automatic weapons hits, resulting in 11 USN and 37 Vietnamese Marines wounded and one Vietnamese Marine killed. The assault craft immediately returned and suppressed the enemy fire with unknown results. Two similar enemy attacks had taken place in approximately the same area along the canal on 31 December.

River Assault Squadron 15, consisting of 17 ATC's, six monitors, one CCB, 2 ASPB's and one LCM-6 (flame charging unit) with 2nd Battalion Vietnamese troops embarked began find, fix and destroy operations along the Song Cai Tu and Song Cai Lon rivers in enemy base 480 on the  morning of 11 January. The operation was planned in order to interdict enemy forces suspected to be in the region; they had been using base area 480 as a staging and storage locale for the conduct of offensive operations in Chuong Thien, Kien Giang and Phong Dinh provinces. Numerous troop insertions along beaches took place although contact with enemy ground forces above squad size did not occur. After troop landings, river assault craft established blocking and interdiction stations and checked a total of 189 sampans throughout the operation which lasted until 18 January. Nine Viet Cong suspects were detained. Enemy attempts to repulse the riverine forces took form as eight enemy initiated firefights resulted. Of the total of 26 USN wounded, five occurred as ATC-151-5 was sunk by a watermine on the Song Cai Tu 5 1/2 miles southwest of Vi Thanh while river assault craft were proceeding to refueling stations at Vi Thanh. Two sailors and one Vietnamese Marine were killed as the mined craft sank almost immediately. During the operation, in which at least 18 Viet Cong were killed, several arms caches were discovered.


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