RIVER DIVISION FIVE THREE ONE
FPO SAN FRANCISCO 96601
I am happy to be sending you another news letter, as promised, covering our last six weeks here in Nha Be. Our normal cycles of river patrols continue, the men putting in long hours, but with considerably less action than in the previous months. Nha Be is located on the main river some six or seven miles south east of Saigon. There are three river divisions here whose main job is to keep the shipping channel open to Saigon. We divide up the various tributaries in the Rung Sat Zone and patrol just about all the rivers and streams from Nha Be southeast to the South China Sea. Most of the area has been defoliated which makes it very difficult for the VC to operate unseen. Although we have had some minor actions during the past five weeks, luckily, none of our boats have been hit.
We are also on standby here to patrol the waters around Siagon in event of a major attack. However, it is my personal opinion that "Charlie" has been so badly hurt during the last four months, that it is doubtful that he has enough supplies and personnel left to launch a major offensive. I do expect increased hit-and-run terrorist actions and perhaps scattered minor offensives as "Charlie" must try to "save some face" during the Paris talks. Well, my predictions may be all wet, but March and April should tell the tale.
The berthing and messing facilities here, while not quite as exclusive as the Hotel Hilton, are satisfactory for a war zone. The men live in one wing of a barracks in which they have built cubicles. Each cubicle contains four bunks so we can have one for each boat crew and one for the maintenance gang. The food here is pretty good and the meal hours are adjusted so that the day patrols can get a hot breakfast before leaving on patrol and a hot dinner in the evening when they return. The night patrols have time to to get a hot dinner before leaving the piers. We have doctors and dentists here with modern medical facilities and a laundry which takes care of that chore once a week. There is also an EM Club which provides a place for some relaxation during the "off duty" hours in the evening. The small village of Nha Be is open for liberty about three hours each afternoon but, being small as it is, has little to offer.
We are pleased to welcome aboard the following new men that have just reported: Seaman Edwin C. CROSS, Seaman Thomas J. KATSUL, and Seaman John C. HOOKANA. And we will be sorry to lose some of our men in the near future as their tour is completed, and they have all been instrumental in making River Division 531 the outstanding division which it is today. However I'm sure that those concerned are most happy to be leaving and are looking forward to the reunions which will come in due time to all of us. Those who will be returning this month are: Gunner's Mate Donald J. MINICK, Gunner's Mate Elby J. BILLEAUDEAU, and Gunner's Mate Harry T. DAWKINS. Also Seaman Keith E. GOTTSCHALL was transferred to River Division 535 in My Tho.
And, finally, I should like to close by wishing them and you all the best of luck, and to let you know that I will be writting* to you again in a month or so.
(Signed) T. K. Anderson
T. K. ANDERSON
We just got late news, some good some bad.
For the bad, our Senior Patrol Officer, LTJG Frank G. DUSERICK, has been
ordered to River Division 574 as Operation Officer. It's a step up
for him to a more responsible job, but we will miss his fine services in
531. For the good news, Ensign Dave L. FUNK, injured in a mortar
accident during the Rach Gia Campaign, has recovered and will be returning
to us in early March. We look forward to adding him to our roster of patrol
* Writing was misspelled in the original and I have retyped the newsletter
as originally written to preserve it's integrity.