James H. Marohn Sr.
- GMG3, Small Arms Specialist, aboard Swift Board USS Firedrake AE-14
- Served: 1965-1968
- Vietnam War
- Awarded Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal
- 1967-1968 Volunteered as a gunner on a Swift Boat crew in the Mekong Delta
Born May 20, 1947, Jim says his goal in life is to be the last surviving Vietnam Vet! Most of his service was on board a Swift Boat which is described by Jim.
U.S. Navy Patrol Craft Fast (PCF):
Dimensions: 50 feet by 13 feet with speed of 32 knots. Crew of Six: Boat officer, Gunners mate, Engineman, Radarman and two sailors to man te 81 mortar/aft 50 caliber guns. The entire crew was cross trained in all duties and responsibilities. Armament/Firepower included: 2 Browning 50 Caliber machine guns on top turret, 1-81mm Mark 2 mortar with 50 Cal mounted on top; 1-M79 grenade launcher- later upgraded to a belt feed; 1-M-60 machine gun;5- M-16 rifles; 1- 12-gauge Ithaca riot gun (sawed off); .38 caliber or .45 caliber pistols; various hand grenades (shrapnel, concussion and Thermite); Very pistols (flare gun).
The PCF, or Swift Boat, was introduced into the Vietnam War in 1965. Swifts were initially used as coastal patrol craft in Operation Market Time. The mission was to cut off enemy supply lines by water. Every day, hundreds of civilian boats were stopped, boarded, and searched for contraband. Operation Market Time brought the infiltration of arms and supplies in the coastal waters of Vietnam and rivers in the Mekong Delta to a halt.
After the Tet Offensive in 1968, the Swift Boats were moved deeper into the rivers for Operation Sealord where they worked closely with other boats of the “Brown Water Navy” such as the PBR – Patrol Boat River. Their new missions still included patrolling the waterways, searching water traffic for weapons and munitions. Under the new mission, Swifts Boats were used to insert and evacuate troops, including Navy SEAL teams in areas they previous were not able to access. The heavily armed PCF’s provided gunfire support and performed raids into enemy territory.
“It was a hell of way to be nineteen years old!”