Boats of Glass, Balls of Brass, Black Berets Forever

Provided by Fred McDavitt

The PBRs were delivered in kit form and we had to assemble them ourselves. It took several days per boat as parts were missing, and the electrical systems were different on each boat. We also had to make modifications. For instance, the canopy ran to the stern of the boat. We had to cut about ten feet of material off each one and restich them by hand. The original boats also had no way to go in reverse. Another story. And the after guns were 30 cal, which didn't really work too well. Another story. I could go on.

The name game. Another little known fact. The designation of the organizational units changed several times during the first year. This was caused by the fight between the "Blue Water" Navy and the "Brown Water" Navy. Originally, I was ordered to be Commander, River Division 531 and was authorized to wear the command pin after the unit was commissioned. That didn't last long. Shortly after we arrived in country, we received a message that stated that the designation had been changed to River Section, and that the commander would now be designated Officer in Charge, with no command pin. A few months later, the name was changed again to River Patrol Section, "in order to more accurately reflect the mission of these units." By the time I left in late March of 1967, the name had been changed again to River Section, without explanation. I think it was in late '67 or early '68 the designation returned to the original River Division and the command pin reauthorized. The politics behind all these name changes is unbelievable and is another whole story in itself.

*  Origin of the Black Beret, Provided by Fred McDavitt

*  COMRIVPATFOR Message, Provided by Cecil Martin