Brown Water Veterans Honored

Thursday, May 26, 2005

At a ceremony to honor Vietnam veterans, service members and their families observe a Vietnam Memorial Monument on board Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. The ceremony was held to honor Navy and Coast Guard personnel who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Prince Albert Hughes III (RELEASED)

By Journalist 3rd Class Cynthia R. Smith, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A monument dedicated to Navy and Coast Guard veterans who fought and died supporting brown water and other naval operations in Vietnam was unveiled May 21 at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

More than 700 people attended the unveiling of the 66 feet-long and 8 feet-tall monument, which displayed 26 panels listing the names, ranks, hometowns, units and dates of death of all the veterans who took part in brown water operations in Vietnam from 1960 to 1975.

Also recognized and honored were the 38,218 Army; 2,586 Air Force; and the 14,840 Marines who died in the service of their country in the Vietnam War.

“We all served with honor,” said Kenneth McGhee, a retired Navy captain who is president of the Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument Fund. “This monument is a way to honor the past and will also serve as a link for those who will visit the site in the future.”

The memorial includes three small boats from the brown water Navy era: the Patrol Boat River; Patrol Craft Fast and Command Communications Boat, which all point towards the curved concrete wall memorial.

Commander, Navy Region Southwest authorized the memorial in June 1999 and since then, veterans from three organizations, The Swift Boat Sailors Association; the Gamewardens of Vietnam; and the Mobile Riverine Force Association have worked to restore the boats.

The Memorial Wall, as it exists today, was funded, excavated, formed and poured using private donations and the labor of the veterans.

Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command and guest speaker during the dedication, thanked the veterans for their service to their country.

“Today is a small opportunity for me to pay back the veterans who risked their lives and served honorably in Vietnam,” Maguire said.

For retired Electronics Technician 1st Class Tom Beck, who served in Vietnam with Boat Support Unit 1, the monument is a great testament to the sacrifices many great servicemen made during Vietnam.

“This will not only honor all those who died bravely in Vietnam, it will also show future generation the sacrifices made by those brave individuals.”

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