Cua Viet / Dong Ha
Resupply and Interdiction
Naval Postcards from the DeMilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Images on this page are courtesy of the following individuals:
Ray Ponthieux, Dale Duffield, Bill Wells, Warren Jenny, Ray Ballew, Tony Ey, Herb Blume
Richard Sherley, J.R. Foster, Ron Ownsby, Terry Esler, Roy Pettus, George Wendell, Joe Criscione


Music by Simon and Garfunkle©

Welcome to the Cua Viet

Muddy when it rained. Gritty when it didn't. Sandbags required Looking out from the base at the mouth of the Cua Viet River

Sand bags, sand and (oh yeah) a little more sand Tea time outside the hooches. Ltjg Dan Daly on the left
A bungalow cottage with a beachfront view of the sand A quiet, cozy nook in the forrest suburbs

Bunkers were easily accessed out the rear of the hootches
Over the bridge and through the woods to the chow hall Only 3.2% alcohol, but a relief when the shelling stopped
The ammunition dump was separated from the main compound Other "dumps" were taken closer and protected from shelling

Nice and comfy with a novel Dreaming of home and what we are fighting for No gunfire. Time for a nap

The US Marine Corps 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion provided defense against direct assault

USMC Sea Knight approaches the Amtrac compound Huey choppers patrol just off the coast

Swift Boat Operations

"Yeah ... the weather is just fine to go on patrol"

"I think I'll check the surf before trying the river mouth exit"

For a description of just how dangerous the Cua Viet river mouth could be, see Cua Viet Swift Boat Rescue

  Swift Boats nested at the NSAD Cua Viet pier  

PCF-50 making ready to get underway Gaggle of boats single up at the jetty
Heading out to DMZ Barrier Patrol Areas Cua Viet patrol areas were always hampered by the weather
Swifts and PBRs say hello to the North Vietnamese Unfortunately, they sometimes returned the favor
Some "boats" had bigger guns than the Swifts
USS New Jersey (BB-62) conducting NGFS near the DMZ
The only Mark II Swift Boat assigned to I Corps
PCF-139 makes a call to the slightly larger New Jersey
  
Swifts alongside rocketship USS Carronade (IFS-1) Swift Forward Air Controller directs airstrike

Lonely Sentinel on the Coastal Border

Vietnamese Navy Coastal Group Eleven Base

Just a few hundred yards inland from NSAD

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Beans, Bullets and Bravery
"I don't know what logistics is. But I need lots of it!"
Admiral Ernest J. King, CNO 1942-1945

From the belly of the dragons

 

Onto the cargo decks of the workhorses

Then up the river to that most vital tri-border intersection

Older LCU Boat
Newer YFU Boat

The required supplies got delivered

Replinishing fuel bunkers at Dong Ha
LCU-1485 offloads 110 tons of 105mm projectiles

 

But sometimes there were difficulties encountered along the way

At such low points, US sailors
contemplated the result with
quiet perseverence and
steady determination.

Then just carried on.

Accomplishing the important
task of delivering the crucial
materials on to the most
needed areas

Where does this nation find such patriots?

 

>
To Protect and Preserve

Task Force Clearwater

PBR Escorts: "Hulls of glass. Balls of brass. Nerves of steel"


 

Image courtesy Tony Ey, RAN Clearance Diving Team 3

Friendly Fire Isn't

  Blue on Blue Tragedy - USCGC Point Welcome 11 August 1966  
 


For complete information on this tragic incident view Bill Wells' Target of Opportunity

Post Script

Richard Lennon, Captain, USMC 1803 (Amtrac Officer), was in Vietnam in 1968 with the 1st Amtrac Battalion located at Camp Kistler at the mouth of the Cua Viet River. Here is his narrative of a trip back to the Cua Viet in 1996:

In 1996, I returned to Vietnam to revisit the Cua Viet and other sites in the DMZ region. My trip was arranged through a travel agent with offices in Hong Kong and Hanoi called Sundance Travel which put together all the details, including a guide / translator, a vehicle with driver, transportation within Vietnam and hotel reservations. Just initially hearing from a travel agent by fax in Hanoi was a mind boggling experience. I had spent almost 30 years believing that anyone from Hanoi must be "the evil empire." Absolutely untrue.

The trip took me from Singapore into Hanoi, with a view from the plane off the coast of Vietnam going north over Danang and the mouth of the Cua Viet. I was put on the Reunification Train to Hue in the evening for a 16-hour trip overnight.

We crossed through the then-DMZ area and over the Ben Hai River during the early morning hours, and many things became recognizable from that point. We made a quick stop in Dong Ha, then continued on south to Hue for a visit.

We spent almost two days touring Hue, and the Citadel in particular, before heading north to Dong Ha. Dong Ha has replaced Quang Tri as the provincial capital. Working out of a fairly basic motel on Route 1 in "downtown" Dong Ha, I spent several days touring most of the DMZ region, including USMC bases at Khe Sanh, Carroll, the Rockpile, and Dakrong Bridge. I essentially covered all the familiar places on Routes 1 and 9 just south of where the DMZ had been.

Finally, it was a trip back up the road to Cua Viet, into the area that had served as Camp Kistler, and its northern outposts of C-4 and Ocean View. I was immediately met by the local police, who look amazingly similar to the Vietamese Army! Cua Viet is viewed as a strategic port location and therefore houses a garrison of local police. I was brought to police headquarters to meet the Chief and to answer some basic questions as to why I was there and what I wanted to see. I explained my trip and shared some pictures from 1968 --- at which point, he realized we'd been there at about the same time. He'd been a teenager we placed in a nearby resettlement village with his family.

1996 Road Sign

1968 Road Sign

The approach to Cua Viet

Vietnamese Police greet Richard upon arrival

1996 view of the river entrance

1968 view of the river entrance

The most striking change (and perhaps the only one since 1968) is the four story lighthouse that now sits on the beach. There, along with the police chief, I was greeted by the lighthouse keeper for a tour of his building and surrounding area. The three of us walked and talked (through my interpreter) of our experiences of many years ago. We returned to the lighthouse for a mid-afternoon snack of some cold cuccumber and white "wine," cut with the blood of a sea snake! Thanks, but I didn't need to know that!

Lighthouse and guardshack at the mouth of the Cua Viet River - 1996

1996 foot bridge to Camp Kistler location

1968 foot bridge to Camp Kistler

The NSAD loading ramp location in 1996

The NSAD loading ramp location in 1968

Next day, I'm back on the train in Hue and going north to Hanoi all by myself, arriving 6 a.m. at the downtown train station. Finally, out to the airport, through customs (easy), and onto a Vietnam Airlines aircraft--a 767, no less.

In retrospect, the best trip of my life. My mindset is changed, and the memories are of a new, more positive Vietnam. The people are warm and interested in visiting Americans. And even though I traveled by myself, I had absolutely no concerns about the trip at any time.

 


This web site is Copyright © 2002 by Robert B. Shirley.
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