Riverine Was the Forgotten Hero of the Vietnam War

BY MATT CRISARA

To most of you, PBR probably sounds like a mid-strength beer you’d find stashed in a frat house fridge. But I’m not talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon here. Instead, this PBR—the Patrol Boat Riverine—was one of the most important fighting vessels that played a key role in protecting U.S. troops during the Vietnam War.

As the conflict escalated in the 1960s, the U.S. military realized the need for a relatively small yet nimble craft that could navigate the shallow rivers of Southeast Asia. So they reached out to Hatteras—a manufacturer of luxury yachts based out of New Bern, North Carolina—to build a prototype.

Instead of executing an entirely new design, Hatteras chopped down its existing 41-foot-long fiberglass family cruiser into a 31-foot fighting machine. A working prototype of the Patrol Boat Riverine was ready to go in just six days—very impressive, given the expansive list of modifications. Along with making the boat much shorter (and wider) than before, Hatteras moved the engines farther forward. The propellers were swapped for jets, which served to improve ground clearance and preclude the problem of props getting snagged. All of these alterations made the boat ideal for supporting troops from the shallow waterways flanking the Mekong River.

The jet propulsion system wasn’t exactly what you’d find in an F-4 Phantom II fighter plane. Believe it or not, it was manufactured by Jacuzzi. The PBR had a series of intakes underneath the hull, protected by thin mesh, to feed water to an impeller. The impeller then forced the water through stage two at incredibly high speed before shooting it out of a nozzle in the rear of the boat.

In the case of navigating shallow water, this jet propulsion is far superior to traditional propellers, with less risk of grounding out. Why? Because the only obstructions coming out the back of a jet boat are the nozzles themselves; this gives them much better ground clearance.

 

 

Fijian infantrymen set the standard

Photo: Australian Army rifleman Corporal Joshua Townsend coaches a soldier from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces during a live-fire qualifying shoot at Gallipoli Barracks. Photo: Corporal Nicole Dorrett

By Warrant Officer Class Two Max Bree

 

A contingent of Fijian infantrymen is undertaking support company and other courses at Gallipoli Barracks over the next two months, demonstrating their motivation and ability to integrate with Australian Army sections.

The group of 65 Fijians arrived mid-July as part of Exercise Coral Warrior and is their largest contingent to date.

Most are embedded with the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR) and are completing battalion-run courses such as basic direct fire support weapons, recon and mortars, alongside their Australian Army counterparts.

8/9RAR operations officer Major Ryan Bell said the courses were not bespoke, with trainees receiving the same packages, where possible, as Australian soldiers vying for support company positions in 2023.

Before starting, all Fijian soldiers were qualified on the EF88 Austeyr rifle and completed the initial combat communicator course.

“From the first two weeks’ feedback, it’s clear the Republic of Fiji Military Forces soldiers are highly motivated, very professional and have come here with a strong desire to learn,” Major Bell said.

“Not only are they enjoying the training, but they are well and truly holding their own, with the one Fijian on the sniper course currently setting the standard for navigation and combat fitness.”

The Fijian contingent also includes a number of support and logistics soldiers, including mechanics and a fitter also embedded with 8/9RAR.

In addition, a group of engineers are training with the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, according to Fijian contingent commander Major Tavita Biudole.

“The engineers mostly do construction back home, so combat engineering will be something new for them,” Major Biudole said.

Fijian Military Police have also embedded with the 1st Military Police Battalion at Enoggera, while Fijian logistics and ammo suppliers are working with 7th Combat Service Support Battalion.

Some Fijians were undergoing Bushmaster and medical courses while others are on an infantry corporal course run by 8/9RAR.

Major Bell said Fijian soldiers would depart with at least three course reports and records of attainment that will enable continuation training during future rotations.

“If they come back to work with us again, they can fit in as part of an Australian section within a collective training environment, or undertake instructional/support staff duties on next year’s courses,” he said.

Photo: Australian Army Sergeant Arron Harch gives ‘brief to fires’ to soldiers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces before they conduct a live-fire qualifying shoot. Photo: Corporal Nicole Dorrett

 

THE BLACK BRA (as told by a woman)

I had lunch with 2 of my unmarried friends.

One is engaged, one is a mistress, and I have been married for 20+ years.

We were chatting about our relationships and decided to amaze our men by greeting them at the door wearing a black bra, stiletto heels and a mask over our eyes.

We agreed to meet in a few days to exchange notes.

Here’s how it all went:

 Engaged friend:

The other night when my boyfriend came over he found me with a black leather bodice, tall stilettos and a mask. He saw me and said, ‘You are the woman of my dreams…I love you.’

Then we made passionate love all night long.

The mistress:

Me too! The other night I met my lover at his office and I was wearing a raincoat, under it only the black bra, heels and mask over my eyes.

When I opened the raincoat he didn’t say a word, but he started to tremble and we made wild love all night.

 Then I had to share my story:

When my husband came home I was wearing a black bra, black stockings, stilettos and a mask over my eyes. When he came in the door and saw me he said, ” What’s for dinner, Zorro?

 

TRUE TRAVEL COMPLAINTS

“THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY “THOMAS COOK VACATIONS” FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS:

  1. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”
  2. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
  3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
  4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
  5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
  6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
  7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
  8. “No one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
  9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg slicer in the drawers.”
  10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
  11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guidebook during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”
  12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”
  13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friend’s three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
  14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”
  15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
  16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”
  17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”
  18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
  19. “My fiancée and I requested twin beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.

 

Vale: 2786871 Terrance Dewaldon Brown – 1RAR

Unfortunately, I have another name to add to the list of those who have marched on.
At 6.15pm, in John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Terry Brown passed away on 26 Jul 2022.
Brownie had been in ill health for some time.

He served in Vietnam Mar 68 – Feb 69 -with 1 Pl A Coy 1 RAR

Lest We Forget

Mick Bayley

Vale: 4410820 Major Harvey Winston Fewings (Retd) – RAA

We have been advised of the death on 27 July 2022 of Harvey Winston Fewings.  He was 80. Harvey graduated from Officer Cadet School Portsea in 1967 and served in Vietnam initially with 12th Field Regiment and completed his tour with 1st Field Regiment.

A funeral service will be held at 12.00pm on Wednesday 3 August 2022 at Traditional Funerals, 636 Morayfield Road, Burpengary, Qld. The funeral will be life streamed with the link to be advised.  Harvey had requested a burial in his beloved St George which will take place on Friday 5 August at 9.00am. Details to follow when advised. Condolence cards may be sent to his widow Marjorie Borissow at 20 Penda Street, Morayfield, QLD 4506.

RIP Harvey Winston Fewings

Peter Bruce, OAM

Obituary Resource Officer

MINISTER KEOGH RADIO INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

THE HON MATT KEOGH MP

MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL

2CC 1206 AM STEPHEN CENATIEMPO BREAKFAST SHOW 

THURSDAY 28 JULY 2022

SUBJECTS: Veterans Home Care Funding, Invoice Backlog, Claims Backlog, Supporting the Invictus and Warrior Games

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Credit where credit’s due, the Federal Government has announced a commitment to ensuring that veterans and veteran families have the services they deserve. They’ve committed an additional $70.6 million in funding over four years to increase veterans home care fees for domestic assistance and personal care services. To talk to us more about this, we’re joined by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Matt Keogh. Matt, good morning.

THE HON MATT KEOGH MP, MINISTER FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE PERSONNEL: Good morning, Steven. Great to be with you and your listeners.

CENATIEMPO: $70 million. We’re big supporters of the veterans’ community here on this programme. Tell us how home care actually works.

KEOGH: So a range of veterans and widowers and widows have access to veterans’ home care and that provides support such as house cleaning, grocery shopping, personal care activities like showering, toileting, eating, respite care for carers, as well as some safety-related home and garden maintenance, like making sure light bulbs are changed and cleaning gutters and windows and so forth. So it’s really important in home support for veterans if they’re gold card veterans or if they’ve got a particular injury and disability, that means that they need assistance with those sorts of matters within and around the home.

CENATIEMPO: $70.6 million over four years. In real terms, how many people is this going to help?

KEOGH: So what it’s about is helping the 37,000 veterans, war widows and widowers that receive this sort of assistance. And the issue that has arisen is that under the previous government, the fees that were paid to the providers of this assistance had become quite low. And it meant that some providers were leaving no longer providing that assistance to veterans, which made it more and more difficult to make sure that the veterans that need this support were receiving that support. And so this $70.6 million will increase the fees being paid to those providers. It means they’re better able to retain staff as well, because we know it is hard to get staff so that we can continue to provide these services in the home too. As I say, there’s 37,000 veterans and widows who get this assistance.

CENATIEMPO: Veterans’ affairs is probably one of the more difficult portfolios and one that sometimes flies under the radar a bit. And I don’t want to point the finger at the previous government because it’s been problematic longer than they were in power, but, I mean, some of the backlogs and things getting claims through DVA were extraordinary when we were talking about the last year. How far have you come with clearing some of that up?

KEOGH: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Stephen. A huge issue. So there’s been two major backlog issues. One has been about claims and the other one has been payments for services that assist veterans. On the payments front, that backlog has now largely been removed over the last couple of months, huge amount of effort put in by the staff at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and additional resources have been applied over the last couple of months to get that through. The backlog on claims, though, 60,000 plus claims sitting there. We made a commitment to bring on 500 additional staff over the next two years to get that backlog down. We’ve already brought on some of those staff and we’re converting labour hire into public servants. That’s really important because what was happening is you churned lots of people, you lose the benefit of training, which meant it was slower and slower to get through those claims. So making sure we can retain those train staff vitally important so we can get that backlog down.

CENATIEMPO: Now, I just want to off topic for a moment. I want to throw an issue at you that’s been raised with me a couple of times and I don’t expect you to give me an answer straight away because I’m throwing a curveball at you, but when the Invictus Games were held here in Australia a few years back, the participants were given the Australian Service Medal. There’s been a campaign by some of those involved with Invictus to have that extended out to all competitors in the Invictus Games. Have you been approached by anybody with regards to that or are you aware of that issue?

KEOGH: So it’s the Australian Sports Medal.

CENATIEMPO: The Sports Medal sorry, yes.

KEOGH: Yes, I have had some approaches about that. The sports medal is actually run through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet doesn’t come under me. I’ve got a lot of medals that we do it in the defence personnel space, but not that one. I’m aware of the campaign, that sports medal was started at a particular point in time and that’s applied from that point going forward. Working on a retrospective approach to that would, as I understand it, pose a great deal of difficulties about who’s eligible, who wouldn’t be eligible, two people miss out, et cetera. As I say, it’s not my responsibility – responsible area, but I am aware of the campaign and I understand, of course, why people would want to be able to get those medals. But more importantly, I think we’ve got the Warrior Games coming up, Invictus Games will be coming up after that. I think they’re hugely great initiatives for supporting our veterans, our veterans that have suffered disability and showing that there is a good way forward, a positive life forward, even for those that have suffered disability and injury through their service to our nation as part of our Defence Force. And I’m really supportive of those games and that programme.

CENATIEMPO: Yeah, certainly great initiatives. Minister, I appreciate your time this morning.

KEOGH: Great to be with you, Stephen. Thank you very much.

CENATIEMPO: Matt Keogh, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. Let’s have a quick look at what’s happening in North America this morning.

ENDS

 

“Fair Go Nashos” Fair suck of the Sauce Bottle Mate!

Re your advertisement in the Melbourne Herald Sun, 23rd July 2022

I remember when I was called up, there were those that were glad that although they were in the ballot, were happy their Date of Birth was not pulled out. Then there were those who were conscripted who were happy that they did not go to South Vietnam (apparently your Mob) They thought they were lucky, they had every weekend off with their family, got free medical, dental and didn’t need a health fund, shagged all weekend and back to Base on Monday and they were Happy. NOW THEY’RE NOT.  This is the attitude that has become part of the Australian belief, “Gimme Gimme Gimme”

I also remember after National Service had finished, I heard a lot of blokes that had missed being called up saying, “I wouldn’t have minded being called up” but I never heard that before Conscription finished.

You expect to be given the same everything for what others went through just because you were a Nasho. You believe you had two years taken from you, I don’t agree with that, it is my firm belief that because you didn’t go to South Vietnam, you got at least a year’s start on us! Furthermore, you must have asked yourself what sort of person you might have turned out had you not been conscripted? Would you be a better person, or would you have been worse? … only you can answer that, but what you haven’t experienced is the horrors of War, when you don’t know if you will get back home. You haven’t experienced being terrified of a killer hidden in front of you that you can’t see, who has already shot dead your forward scout. You don’t know where the shot came from and has he got you in his sights … am I next? Never mind the fact that your dead scout who you can see lying there shares your tent back at the Dat. You were never put in a spot where you can hear rounds cracking close by you, knowing that it was meant for you. You have never heard a Vietcong round hitting the body of your mate, yes, you can hear it thud into the chest of a 20yo Australian National Serviceman who twelve months earlier had been a happy 19/20Yo carefree with his whole life ahead of him. Furthermore, you haven’t had to listen to the agonizing screams of pain from a nacho who has just had his lower arm completely blown off because of a Booby Trap Claymore Mine. Also, a Medic who is a Nasho trying to keep him alive until the area is safe and he, along with the dead Nashos are lifted out by a Dust Off chopper. You don’t have to live with the physical injuries for the rest of your life, as a lot do to this Day, Surgeons can only do so much, but we continued, holding down a regular job, raising a family, buying a home, paying off cars and all the rest that goes with it. You cannot have the horrid dreams of those events that those who served overseas have; we are still suffering from the effects of that war.

However, if you were injured during the course of your National Service and have long-term effects from them, you should receive some assistance and you do, it’s called a White Card, so Suck it Up, Princess.

There’s not much difference between your lot and a person who left school as a 15yo, and works as a cleaner in a hospital believes they deserve the salary of a Brain Surgeon because he/she works in the same place, you tell me the difference.

Sorry, Nashos, everything has to be earned, unless, of course, that you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, then the rules are different…

Dave Rummery
Tasmania.

Exercise Brolga Run 22 Community Day – 3RAR

Charters Towers came alive with activity, playing host to Exercise Brolga Run which concluded its urban phase on Thursday.

The historic town graciously agreed to play “host-nation”, to test the ability of the 3rd Brigade’s Ready Battle Group Kapyong to support stability and security operations. More than 1000 soldiers and 200 vehicles spent the week operating in and around the township.

The Australian Army rarely operates alone – we’re pleased to have the Charters Towers council, Queensland Police, @NZDF and local community involved in the exercise to learn from each other and improve the way we operate. We couldn’t do this without the support of the community!