I volunteered for Swift Boat Operations. In May of 1970, after completing the QC Officer course at NATTC GLYNCO, I was detached and ordered to report to COSRON ONE, Vietnam via TAD at the PCF/Riverine Warfare School at NIOTC Mare Island, Vallejo, California. While on TAD at NIOTC, I attended SERE training at Whidbey island, Washington and weapons training at NAD HAWTHORNE, Nevada.
On 16 August,1970, I reported to COSDiV 13, Sa Dec, RVN, for duty as OINC SWIFT. Initially, l was assigned to participate, in a Mekong River operation involving US NILOs and an element of ARVN Military intelligence Detachment, Saigon. This operation captured some forty VC, including the Executive Officer of a VC Como-Liason Battalion and three enemy weapons/cash shipments via sampans. In addition, operations were conducted to pursue craft seeking to evade capture by crossing into Cambodian waters.
In September 1970, I was ordered to proceed to Coastal Group 35, Long Fu. The allied navies launched Operation Blue Shark, a seven-month effort designed to strike at the Viet Cong command, communication, and logistics network (or infrastructure) in the mangrove swamps at the mouth of the Mekong River system, on the river islands, and along the river banks all the way to the Cambodian border. This was a joint operation involving US Swift Boats and US SEALS to determine the extent of“pacification” of Dung Island in the lower Bassac River. During this operation, I participated in a Blue Light operation during which the SEALS attempted to rescue a US Army Major who was being held captive by the VC. The SEALS were ambushed and an intense fire fight broke out between the SEALS, the covering Swift Boats and the VC. The SEALS but were successfully extracted but the US Major was not recovered.
Several sweeps around Dung island were conducted by Swifts which resulted in minor firefights, one of which required the assistance of attack helicopter support from Can Tho to suppress the enemy fire. In mid-September, while extracting ARVN Ruff Puffs (local militia) from a search and destroy mission on Dung island, my boat and my cover boat came under heavy weapons fire. A fierce ﬁrefight resulted but both boats were able to clear the kill zone with only one casualty — a US enlisted man was blinded.
On 15 September I was ordered to report to the SOLID ANCHOR base as my boat was being turned over to South Vietnamese Navy. I was re—assigned to CTF 115 (Commander Coastal Surveillance Force) more commonly known as “Operation Market Time, located in Cam Ranh Bay. Initially, i was assigned as an NOC Watch Officer/Advisor to the Vietnamese counterpart of CTF 115 (CTF 213).
In October, the Commodore assigned me to go aboard the USS GALLUP (PG 85) and then the USCGC PONCHARTRAIN (WHEC 70) to evaluate their respective surveillance capabilities as part of the “Gun Line,” for Market Time.
Returning to Cam Ranh Bay in November, I participated in the monitoring and direction of South Vietnamese Swift Boat operations against VC infiltration trawlers attempting to smuggle weapons, men and supplies into the III Corps area. This continued to be one of my duties for the remainder of my tour.
In January 1971, I was assigned as the Senior Watch Officer, responsible for training and supervising the other US watch officers. In February, I was tasked with writing an analysis of the progress of the Vietnamese Navy. This report was completed in March and forwarded to NAVFORV in Saigon.
In April, I assumed duties as CTF 115’s Assistant Operations/Air Operations Officer. In this capacity, I worked with the VNN Intelligence Officer to assist him in his evaluation of VC infiltration capabilities, both maritime and riverine. During this month, a large VC trawler was tracked and destroyed by assets of CTF 115/CTF 213.
In the following months, I was sent by CTF 115 to Saigon on a number of occasions to confer with NAVFORV Intelligence Officers in order to coordinate new coastal surveillance methods and procedures.
In August 1971, I “left on a jet plane” for CONUS.
Bruce Sulzner, Class of 1968, BS – Geology. Five years USN service, one year in Vietnam.
During my service in Vietnam, I was awarded:
– Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (2 awards);
– Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V”,-
– Combat Action Ribbon;
– Meritorious Unit Commendation (2 awards),-
– Vietnam Service Medal (2 stars)
– Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device
– OINC Swift Insignia
– Order of the PaIm Medal (Vietnamese)