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SEAWOLVES Det.4, Phu Loi

I was a crew/chief door-gunner with the U.S. Navy HA(L)3-SEAWOLVES. Ben Luc was the home of Det.4. Our AO—area operation—was the Plain of Reeds, Parrots Beak, Cambodia. We were known as the Slingshot Raiders and Delta Gypsies.

Sometime in 1971 we were given the task of covering the river boats that were stationed in Phu Loi and transiting the Upper Saigon River, twice a day, with no support. For some unknown reason the gunship squadrons were either to busy or couldn't fly below 2,000 ft. because it was too "HOT". I know, I know, this is what we were told. I was under the impression that NAM was "HOT" and we were to support each other, period.

Not long after we arrived we made a recon flight to see what we could see. We took off, one helo, and proceeded to 2,000 ft., so's not to give Sir Charles any inclination as to what was about happen. It seemed that Charlie would ride their motorcycles to the river where they would shoot their B-40's from atop 25-40ft. high cliffs. This was, to say the least, an unfair advantage for the boats. Then they would just ride off, leaving the boats to limp home. Needless to say the boats were getting tired of getting the heck kicked out of them and not having—or having very little—air support.

We could not believe the trails leading to and from the cliffs. There was also a cutout along one portion of the river, approximately 40-50 meters long, that had 2 tunnel entrances. After doing a recon of the area we returned to Phu Loi.

Since this was a FREE FIRE zone —no clearances needed— the plan was to put the lead bird up at 2,000 ft. and the trail bird would low–level up the river. At dawn the boats headed out on their routine patrol. Little did Charlie know what was about to happen. After the boats departed our lead bird took off and climbed to 2,000 ft. and shortly afterward we took off, headed in another direction, circled back and headed for the deck. We were screaming—about 65-70 knots maybe— low–level up the river. Our lead bird was at 2,000ft. for the fake and blew by the boats. Man were they happy. Then the lead came over the air —secure transmit— and said "you're not going to believe this". I was hot on the mini-gun and we came around the bend to where the dugout and tunnels were.

Now we go into slow-mo time— it seemed like it took minutes, but only seconds passed. I could not believe my eyes!! Here was Sir Charles at tea and crumpets. They were dressed in a grayish jump suit and purpleish dickey. Their AK-47's were tripoded, like we did in boot. There were approximately 40-60 VC and NVA caught with their pants down and they were no more than 20-30 meters from us. Needless to say when they saw us come around the bend, their mouths dropped and they were scrambling for their weapons. Too late. It was over for them in a heart beat. TAKE NOTICE SIR CHARLES—THE SEAWOLVES HAVE LANDED.

Later, we found out that we had just tangled with the 183rd NVA and local VC. We ran many operations in support of the boats and ground troops who had started running operations in the booby–trap infested jungle. We supported the boats every time they made their transitions and prepped tree lines for the ground troops. The advisors on the ground could not even begin to count the secondary explosions. About this same time I got the first confirm on a HONDA, 50 cal. In the gas tank.

Did I mention the party the River Boats gave us later that night?? Was a good drunk had by all. In 1976 as I was terminating my Navy career, I had the pleasure of meeting a First Class Boats inmate at Sand Point, Wa. He had a jug of Johnnie Walker Red and needless to say we were grateful to be there and swapping sea stories. You see he had been on the river boats that transited the Upper Saigon River.

I am PROUD to call myself a SEAWOLF and to have been and still associated with the BEST PILOTS and GUNNERS and SUPPORT STAFF that the NAVY ever had to offer in time of conflict—THE VIETNAM WAR. GOD BLESS AMERICA and GOD BLESS MY FELLOW SEAWOLVES.

You can find out more about the SEAWOLVES on our web site: seawolf.org

A special thank you to Lynn Franks, a fellow SEAWOLF BROTHER, Det. 4 door gunner, for his help and input. Our condolences to our fallen friends KIA in a mortar attack on the MARS station at Phu Loi. During my tenure with the SEAWOLVES I flew over 900 combat missions.

This story was contributed: Mike Worthington —SEAWOLVES Det.4 Ben Luc, RVN.