SEA TIGERS OF VUNG RO BAY
US Army 458th Transportation Co.
US Army 18th Military Police Brigade
During the Vietnam War the United States Military employed heavily-armed high-speed gunboats to intercept and disrupt enemy travel on the rivers and bays of South Vietnam. While the US Navy operated over 250 of these specialized watercraft, the US Army had less than 40.
Vung Ro Bay was one of nine outposts of the US Army 458th Transportation Company (PBR)
119th Transportation Company
The 119th Transportation Company was the first US Army unit to arrive in Vung Ro Bay, first setting foot on the beach in September 1966. Members of the unit were assembled in July, a few at a time, on a mountain in Cam Rahn Bay, and restricted to the area. Two month later, they all boarded a South Korean LST and headed out into the South China Sea. The next afternoon at around 1600hrs. the vessel beached at Vung Ro. There was nothing there but jungle, water, and snakes. A seldom-used railroad tunnel was visible in the distance. Soldiers set up camp on the southernmost beach area, working day and night, and slept in tents until barracks construction was begun in May or June of 1967. There was no road connecting with the rest of Vung Ro Bay and water craft were used for transport between beaches. Eventually, combat engineers bulldozed a road from Highway 1, at the top of the mountain, down the side of the mountain to Vung Ro.
Photos by Al Chianelli
Units from the 577th Engineer Battalion began building a prefabricated Delong Pier and causeway, completing the project in January 1967. Typhoon Freida struck the bay on November 10, 1967 and washed away 30 feet of the causeway.
119th TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
Thomas Pulley 1966-1967 Rodney Weldov 1967-1968
Ted Durant 1966-1967 Paul Valachovics 1968-1969
John R. Grimes 1966-1967 Bobby Brooks 1966-1967
Lt. Luther 1966-1967 Charles Vance
Capt. George W. Neal 1966-1967 Bill Shanks 1966-1967
Sherrell Duncan 1966-1967 Cpl. Ray Sears 1967-1968
Jack P. Cook 1966-1967 Robert Petrocelli 1967-1968
Lt. Bill King 1966-1967 David Jenkins 1967-1968
Al Chianelli 1967-1968 Charles Terinoni 1966
John K. Butler 1968-1969
Click on photo to enlarge
Al Chianelli Album
Bobby Brooks Photos
Charles Terinoni, Bobby
Brooks, Bill Shanks &
Charles Terinoni &
We were the real expedition unit to touch ground at Vung Ro Bay in Sept. 1966. I can tell you the real story of how we fought the elements of nature for days without cover. I don't remember any ROK's being above protecting us, maybe they came after most of the original men rotated home. WE became Brothers for real.. I miss those guys. Everyone of us would have died for each other. I was a squad leader and a Crane operator. we had 2 cranes, sometimes. We had to operate 3 shifts every day in order to maintain supply and demand. Bombs and Air Force supplies were not all we loaded on the trucks. There all kinds of chemicals, oil and God only know what all..We were down in between 2 mountains and South China Sea was at our backs. Only blessings from God, brought us home.I wish I could see and talk with all my Brothers from the 119th. God, Bless us all. Serving our country with those men was a God send. Thanks to you all who remember.
Always, Bobby Brooks
That first night we got to Vung Ro our platoon sgt asked for any volunteers to go over to the work beach. Or stay and unload the ship. So Bill Hollett and I went over to the beach. No sooner than we set foot in the area a machine gun opened up on top of the hill near where the entrance is. Here we are with no weapons! Didn't last long and then started to work the crane. If I remember right the crane was marked 123TC. How else did a crane get there before us?
Jim Ellis Photos
The LST brought 2 cranes with us when we left Cam Rahn.
One was a 20 ton truck mounted and the other was a LIMA, crawler mounted 10 ton. I don’t remember anybody going to the work beach that awful first night? We were trying to get established at Company Strength for a day or two. It was days later, before a ship was anchored out in the bay. Then LARKS, were loaded by stevedores at the ships then brought the load to shore where we off loaded by crane, on to trucks going to Tuy Hoa, Air base. The engineers had to bull doze a road down the side of the mountain, so the truck could get in. It was a dirt road for the longest time. After a while they floated in the Delong Pier. That’s where Grimes, fell off and was drowned.
"I was a Lt. with the 119th Transportation Co. We moved up to Vung Ro from Cam Rahn Bay in Sept. of 1966. Things were fairly primitive when we first arrived and we all lived in hootch's set atop the sandy beach. During the year there, however, dunnage from the ships coming in to offload was used to put in wooden flooring for the troops in the hootch's and a mess hall was also constructed.
On one occasion, our captain was visited by a bird colonel who stood atop one of the hills surrounding the camp, disapproving all the construction and work that had been done. The reason? He did not like the way the tents were set up; they were not at the proper angles to the mess hall or to some distant point. Everything was torn down and all was rebuilt, this time at the "proper" angles. This building took place during the rainy season so you worked the 12 hour shift on the ships or at the dock and, when that was done, worked on the hootches and mess hall.... and then tore it all down at the colonel's direction."
Lt. Bill King (119th Trans. Co)