Ambush on Hai Muoi Canal, Vietnam 18 August 1968

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Within the first twenty seconds of the ambush, Armor Troop Carrier (ATC) 112-11 takes 3 rockets in the well deck, incapacitating a full platoon of army troops

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A black army sergeant manning this 50 caliber machine gun was severely maimed when a B-40 rocket burned through the one inch armor. He was a true hero. I was medevac’d that day and have never been able to learn his identity. I’ve heard conflicting stories–that he died, that he lived and received the Silver Star.

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Two rockets struck the cox’n flat. The first tore the bar armor aside, the second burned through, spraying me and the radioman with shrapnel. Usually when this happened, the sailors inside were killed.

Forty-five years have passed since that Sunday afternoon. This evening I sit in my meadow and reflect on the years I’ve been gifted. Evening rays pierce gray clouds as dry west wind rattles reed canary seed heads. In the distance two bald eagles spiral on thermals, high above an angus carcass decomposing in the neighbor’s pasture. And again I wonder why I am here when men a few feet away were maimed or killed. It was just another monotonous operation. Travel up another narrow river, search for the elusive Viet Cong.

Five men died–four sailors and one army corporal. Eighty-two were seriously wounded.
For the full 18 August 1968 Operating Report go to: http://www.mrfa.org/rpts/aug68/R181530Z.pdf

Killed In Action that Sunday afternoon:
08/18/68 – Stephen C. Brunton, BM3, Ukiah, CA – ASPB-112-2 (Dinh Tuong)
08/18/68 – Billy D. Roy, BM3, Oklahoma City, OK – ASPB-112-1 (Dinh Tuong)
08/18/68 – Edward R. Darville III, GMG3, Hialeah, FL – ASPB-112-2 (Dinh Tuong)
08/18/68 – Patrick J. Griffin, RM3, Topeka, KS – ASPB-112-1 (Dinh Tuong)
08/18/68 – LUGO-MOJICA HECTOR CPL Toa Baja, Puerto Rico E Co 4th Bn 47th Inf Dinh Tuong

Mobile Riverine Force Association website provided the details for this post; http://www.mrfa.org/

We will remember all who have gone before us at the Mobile Riverine Force Association Reunion, August 28-September 1, 2013. For more information go to: http://www.mrfa.org/2013.Reunion.htm

This past year, after I published Muddy Jungle Rivers, I’ve been humbled by the comments I’ve received from the men who served on the boats. Thank you.

Comments

  1. Wendell … Came across this site by pure accident …. Thinking about you, buddy …. I have the same feelings you experience everyday that my feet hit the floor !!! I was a “DUMBGRUNT” with the Big Red One, June 68 – June 69. Was an Infantry Platoon Leader, Co A, 1/28th Inf. Lost half my platoon twice. My men were killed all around me and I was never hit. The first time was at Loc Ninh, 11 Sept 1968 … we also lost our CG, Maj Gen Keith Ware … his chopper was shot down the next day after we were hit. Can’t seem to get it all outta my head. Don’t know why I was spared …
    Never made it down to the Delta but have a lot of buddies that served down there. Best wishes to you and yours. We have to live our lives for our buddies whose names are on “THE WALL”.
    I’m on facebook if you ever plug into that “social media” outlet … just put in Bill Cowan, Sherman, Texas and my ugly mug ought to pop up !!! Got a few Nam pictures on there. 99% of those on my “friends List” are just like me, “RIGHT WING EXTREMISTS” according to “big sis” !!! THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY !!!

  2. was with you that day in the lead M112-2. two direct hits in the coxwain flat.
    out of the complement of twelve six were medevaced.

  3. Hi Wendell. Don’t suppose that you knew him, but on a long shot, did you know my cousin Patrick Griffin, RM3, KIA 8/18/68? John Halliday

  4. Hello Wendell,
    Was wondering if you knew my dad?
    His Name was Robert Thornton Crockett.
    They called him Bob & later called him Crash.
    He was a Gunners mate served with
    Brian Collage on the same boat T112-11 in the Mobile Riverine Force in Vietnam 1968-69. Brian Collage is alive an well. My father passed Oct 30 of 2010.
    I Truly appreciate anything you could tell me. Thank you in advance.
    Kind regards- His Daughtrer,
    Kelly

  5. Regarding PO3 Stephen C Brunton from Ukiah, California and was KIA on August 18, 1968:
    I donated and dedicated a memorial on Veterans Day, Nov 11, 2015 with his name etched into the black polished granite. He is listed with 21 other Fallen Vietnam War Veterans who were KIA/MIA from Mendocino County.The memorial is located next to the County Museum in Willits, CA.
    Stephen’s story is told in a companion booklet called “Our Gallant Men” and is available to read online at http://mendocinovets.com/

  6. Dennis, What a wonderful tribute to Stephen C Brunton. If I ever get near Willits I will visit the memorial.

  7. Thank you Wendell for continuing to look for this person. I wish I could help more, but I have only patchy memories of that day. I have a hard time dealing with life for a week or so before and after August 18th every year. I used to think I was losing my mind until I figured out the connection. Only four of us from 3rd platoon, Co E, 4/47th Bn were patched up in the field and continued the mission. I was the senior rank (Spec 4) and the person with the most combat experience (3 1/2 months) in 3rd platoon until a few guys came back from the hospital. I arrived as a replacement (May, 1968) and didn’t get to know most of the replacements after Aug 18th before I was pulled from the field in October or November. I wish I had closer bonds, but grunts in Co E didn’t last very long. Thank you for documenting our story.

  8. Was their too. I served as a fifty gunner and mortor loader on M112-2. Was wounded that day. Thanls for posting this.

  9. John Halliday – I was a good friend of Pat Griffin. We went to radio school together and the were stationed on Guam for a year. He and I volunteered for Vietnam, both requesting river boats. I was assigned to a river boat repair ship and Pat to river boats. I never saw him again. I still miss him to this day.

  10. I was in Marine Arty ‘69 and 70.. wish I had been with you guys in the 9th ID… the quintsential combination of infantry in the Delta as well as on boats in the Mekong and canals, that we all think of when we recall Vietnam.. I find everything I can that you guys wrote about it… and the pics prove you guys were doing what seems humanly impossible.. no unit could be more proud than you Guys in the 9th ID, along with the sailors you were with… my Marine hat is off to all of you!

  11. First Thank you Wendell very much for telling about you site
    Dennis I served with Stephen on A-112-2 and USS Kretchmer DER 329
    I was the engineer/gunner. The boat captain Miller was severely wounded and myself was wounded

  12. John Halliday, I was a good friend of your cousin. We just called him “Grif.” We trained together. The last day I saw him was July 19th. He was a really great guy. I think of him and pray for him, all the time, although at this point in my life, I feel certain Grif is in Heaven. I now ask him to put in a good word for me.

  13. Hello Wendell,
    I met you and bought your book in the Paul Bunyan mall Dec. 2018, It’s been a long time since I read a book, but once I started reading I couldn’t stop. The book sat in my cupboard until last week and I decided to check it out. Great book Afe, If I knew then what I know now after reading your book, I would have gave you a hug.

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