There is very little known about the Ca Mau Peninsula the southern tip of Viet Nam.
There is very little known about the Ca Mau Peninsula the southern tip of Viet Nam. One thing is certain, however: for years it has belonged to the Viet Cong.
The Rach Duong Keo--or Keo River-- is one of many narrow water channels cutting across the Ca Mau Peninsula. These PCF's-- or Navy swift boats--were going into the Keo River. They had never been there before, nor has any other Navy.
The odds on the success of the operation were uncertain. Navigability of the river and the strength of the enemy arsenal on its banks could not be determined in advance. And so, the mission was not only to destroy enemy fortifications, but to bring back intelligence--and hopefully, no casualties.
At the mouth of the Keo River, where it meets the South China Sea, a Navy LST fired her 3-inch guns as the swift boats maneuvered into position for the attack:
The swift boats were originally designed to patrol the seas around Viet Nam. River excursions are something new for them. And so of the crews of the swift boats are formed on purely a voluntary basis.
Tension runs high as they enter the river. And as the boats go in, the gunners lay down a wall of 50-calibre machine gun bullets on both sides of the channel.
Viet Cong bunkers lined the bank of the Keo River. If the enemy was at home, he was keeping his head down most of the time. But at intervals the Viet Cong fired from the nearby banks as the swift boats kept up their barrage of firing.
At one point, the river was only 25 feet wide. The boats are 50 feet long.
While the boats were hitting ground targets, in the air American and South Vietnamese planes dropped bombs and napalm on suspected enemy targets.
Viet Cong huts, believed to be connected with a training camp in the area, were burned on sight. There was no mistaking the allegiance of the people here. Viet Cong flags were flying on both banks throughout the 15-mile run.
While the war may seem de-escalated in some parts of Viet Nam, in the Mekong Delta the Navy is on the offensive--maneuvering on unchartered waters in territory that for years has belonged to the Viet Cong.