|DAGGER THRUST V-DECEMBER 5TH, 1965
Dagger Thrust Press Release
U.S. Marines from the Seventh Fleet Amphibious ready Group struck at suspected Viet
Cong Positions near Phu Thu, thirty miles north of Qui Nhon on 5 December in an
amphibious raid named Dagger Thrust. The first wave of Marines departed from the
Landing Ship Dock Monticello (LSD 35) and with support from M-38 tanks move
unopposed over the beach to the objective area. Subsequent waves went ashore in
landing from the ATTACK TRANSPORT MONTROSE (APA-212) while simultaneously,
helo units from the Amphibious Assault Carrier Valley Forge (LPH 8) touch down further
inland. Fourteen VC were reported killed by body count with another eleven estimated
killed friendly casualties were light. The land was supported by Bon Homme Richard
(CVA 31). Naval gunfire support was provided by the destroyers Orleck (DD 886) and
Hubbard ((DD 748). Prior to the landing, boat lanes were cleared of small fishing
vessels and junks by Market Time patrol craft. The Seventh Fleet Ready Group is
commanded by Captain Thomas P. Weschler, USN, of Erie, PA. embarked in Valley
Forge. Rear Adm. Donald Wulzen, USN, of Hamilton, Ohio, Commander Amphibious
Forces U.S. Seventh Fleet, observed the operation from his flagship USS ElDorado
The following message from Commander Amphibious Forces, Seventh Fleet (CTF 76)
is quoted for the information of all hands:
"The fine teamwork and close coordination of the Navy/Marines striking force The following message from CTG 76.4 is quoted for the information of all hands:
in the outstanding planning and execution of the second series of Dagger Thrust
operations has once again been amply demonstrated. Please extend my personal
congratulations to all hands, wholehearted cooperation and superior skills, which
made these combat operations so successful. Well done". RADM Wulzen
At 1800H on 6 December 1965 one of the truly significant events of the war in
Vietnam came to a close. At that moment a vital force of over 4,000 officers and
men, Navy and Marine Corps, submarine, surface and airmen ceased to exist as a
poised rapier, having struck twice.
In striking, the force had ranged over 300 miles between blows; had achieved
success in the face of the Northeast Monsoon: had back loaded, unrepped, made
ship to ship transfers in order to be ready for the new target within 36 hours of the
old and demonstrated guts, determination and know how in a thousand ways.
The enemy was taken by surprise. Ships steaming and off-loading in total
darkness, silence topside and on communication circuits, moving by a strict time
table for hours, each man playing his part carefully, achieved phenomenal results.
The might of BLT 2/1 transported by HMM 261 and the landing craft crushed the
Viet Cong at the objective.
The loses were at least 20 to 1 against the enemy and that makes no claims for
the beautifully executed strikes of the carrier aircraft and our Huies's and the
accurate destroyer gunfire support. It was a Sunday they will not soon forget.
As we go our separate ways, that you to each and every one of you, Sailors and
Marines, for displayed teamwork, responsibility, bravery and ingenuity. You are a
credit to our country and you have earned the title Fighting Men. Commodore
Weschler (Commodore Weschler went on to become VADM Weschler. He and his
wife Trina are members of the USS Montrose APA-212 Association).
AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS - Amphibious activity during the months of January
and February centered on Operation DOUBLE EAGLE, initiated in January and
continued until 16 February, in southern Quang Ngai province. This involved both
forces afloat. Not as spectacular as STARLIGHT, this operation was highly
successful over a longer run.
Four Marine Battalion Landing Teams, with a helicopter element and a battery unit
participated. The attack transport Paul Revere was flagship, leading two other
attach transports, an attack cargo ship, 3 LST's, 2 LSD's, a helicopter carrier, a
cruiser, a destroyer, 2 auxiliaries, and the hospital ship Repose (AH-16). Upon
completion of the first phase of the operation, retention of the Special Landing Force
(BLT 2/3 and HMM 262) and the Amphibious Ready Group (Valley Forge (LPH-8),
Monitcello (LSD-35), and Montrose (APA-212) was requested until 28 February by
MACV to provide continuing support for the second phase.
Where amphibious assault features were incidental to what was mainly a land-based
drive, the quality and extent of Navy support was judged particularly noteworthy.
Battalion teams were landed, backloaded, and moved as called for with exceptional
Helicopters flew 1353 combat sorties, lifting 3257 passengers and 87.2 tons of
cargo, and evacuated 97 casualties. Nearly two hundred aircraft were serviced with
18,397 gallons of fuel and 246 gallons of oil. Other services, including delivery of
6,000 pounds of fresh fruit were provided. The total medical cases evacuated to the
Repose were 304. Of these, 31 were gunshot wound cases, 23 shrapnel wounds, 5
traumatic amputations, 9 lacerations, and 234 miscellaneous disease cases. Among
them, only one man died of wounds and one of disease.
A Navy Beach-Jumper Unit detachment also participated. It operated a
loud-speaker public address system to advise local inhabitants to cooperate with
Marines, to avoid aiding the Viet Cong, and to stay clear of combat areas. The
efforts proved to be effective.
Consolidation of Beach-Jumper Unit and Naval Operational Support Group activities
and their relocation to Okinawa was implemented to centralize command and training
of those activities in the Western Pacific. A conference at the Headquarters of the
Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, defined classroom training requirements for
tactical deception courses.
Princeton (LPH-5), Pickaway (APA-222), and Alamo (LSD-33), with Marine Battalion
Team 1/5 embarked, relieved the Amphibious Ready Group composed of the Valley
Forge, Monticello, and Montrose, with Battalion Landing Team 2/3 embarked. In
addition, units of Amphibious Squadron Three completed the movement of BLT 1/5
headquarters and associated elements to the Western Pacific.
Army Aeromedical, Evacuation in Vietnam, Pgs 58, 59, 87
RIVERINE OPERATIONS - Apart from the drama of even routine evacuations, the
"Dust Off" pilots working the Delta in this phase of the war had to cope with a new
problem furnishing medical evacuation for the joint riverine operations conducted by the
U.S. Navy's River Assault Flotilla One, Task Force 117 and the 2nd Brigade of the
Army's 9th Infantry Division. Medical support for the water born forces usually went
with them down the rivers. One company of the 9th Medical Battalion, staffed an
armored riverine landing craft that was specially fitted with five bunks for patients. A
helipad on the troop carrier consisted of little more than steel runway matting welded
over a framework of pipe. Starting in May 1967 similar armored troop carriers,
besides their six navy crewman housed a medical team consisting of a battalion
surgeon, medical assistants and a radio-telephone operator. The normal route of
evacuation was from the battlefield to the troop carrier by helicopter, then further
evacuation by helicopter to a surgical or evacuation hospital. The armored troop
carrier with its medical complement was similar to a battalion aid station except that
space on board the ship was extremely limited. The craft usually could not hold a
patient more than 30 minutes and only one of these medical troop carriers supported
each battalion committed to action.
On 3 April 1967 representatives of the 44th Medical Brigade, the 9th Infantry Division
Medical Battalion, the U.S. Navy Task Force 117 and the 436th Medical Detachment
(Company Headquarters) met aboard the USS Montrose APA-212, the flagship of the
Mobile Riverine force, to discuss medical care and evacuation. The participants
started to work out standard operating procedures for riverine aeromedical
evacuations. One of the biggest early problems was evacuation of soldiers who were
wounded on boats. Col. Robert M. Hall, MACV Surgeon, advocated a floating litter
that one or two soldiers could propel through the water to move a casualty to a
helicopter landing area on the riverbanks. Hoists could also be used to lift the patients
directly from the assault boats. The Dust Off pilots of the 436th tried both these
techniques. In the summer of 1967 the 45th Medical Company took over from the
436th the direct support of the 9th Division. It also supplied field standby aircraft for
the Division base at Dong tam. To control these aircraft effectively, the Division
designated a Dust Off Control Officer who monitored radio traffic and regulated the
dispatches. The 45th continued this mission until 22 December 1968, when the 247th
Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) arrived to provide evacuation coverage
for the Delta.
By early 1968 Dust Off pilots supporting riverine operations no longer had to land on a
postage stamp in the middle of the river. Because of the long evacuation route and
scarcity of hospitals deep in the Delta, the 9th Division received permission to make a
hospital ship out of a self-propelled barracks ship - the USS Colleton. In December
1967 the Colleton sailed to Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippine Islands, where her
sick bay was enlarged. One month later she rejoined the forces in South Vietnam.
Topside, the ship had a helipad with enough space for one helicopter to land with
another parked to the side. Navy radio - telephone operators controlled all
approaches to this pad. Down a wide ramp was the triage area with six litter
stations. On a lower level was the air conditioned two table surgical site. The
Colleton proved so successful as a hospital ship that the Division got permission to
convert a second vessel. In August 1968 the USS Nuecues was outfitted as a 37 bed
hospital ship, leaving the Colleton with the surgical mission
|USS MONTROSE APA-212
Mother ship for the Mobil Riverine Force River Flot One TF-117
|Montrose with pontoons
along side. Tango, Monitors
tied along side.
|Old rag top ATC's used at first
by TF-117. Used by French
and then passed to Arvin.
|Pontoons alongside Montrose
used to debark troops and tie
|Troops are hosed down prior
|Swift boat along side
LCU boat on river
|Command History 3/67
|Command History 4/67
|Capt Davis 05/67
|Family Gram 05/67
Riv. Flot ONE
Capt. Davis & Dist.
Chief Capt. Tam
|Riv. Flot One &
Lucy & Linus
|Cleaning mud from
Mother ship Riv-Flot 1
|OPERATION DOUBLE EAGLE
"Southern Quang Ngai Province"