ISS4 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 29 of 47

RESERVIST MAGAZINE A LIGHT ON YESTERYEAR Heriberto Hernandez and patrol boat operations in the Vietnam War Story by William H. Thiesen, Ph.D., Historian, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Fast response cutter (FRC) namesake Heriberto Segovia Hernandez volunteered for duty in Vietnam in 1968. Known as "Eddie" by his friends and shipmates, Hernandez was assigned to the 82-foot Coast Guard Cutter Point Cypress , a patrol boat that served along the Cà Mau Peninsula on the southernmost tip of South Vietnam. The Point Cypress deployed regularly to interdict arms smuggling, support troop movements, provide fire support against enemy positions and gather intelligence. To gather intelligence, Point Cypress sent its smallboat, a 14-foot fiberglass motorboat, on reconnaissance missions up Vietnam's shallow inland waterways. Eddie served regularly on these hazardous missions, and, when in port, he visited other patrol boats to get advice and discuss best practices with more experienced veterans. During smallboat operations, Eddie rode point in the bow, holding the M60 machine gun with bandoliers of extra M60 rounds draped over his chest. A well-worn flak vest and a World War II vintage helmet provided his only protection from automatic weapons fire or rocket propelled grenades. On Oct. 5, 1968, Eddie participated in a reconnaissance mission on the Cà Mau Peninsula in which his force came under heavy enemy fire, but Point Cypress and another WPB managed to destroy enemy river barriers, fortified structures, bunkers and armed sampans before withdrawing. On Nov. 9, he deployed in the smallboat on a gunfire damage assessment mission near Hòn Đá Bąc Island, on the west side of the Cà Mau Peninsula, to assess a fire support mission just completed by a U.S. patrol vessel. During this mission, Hernandez's smallboat located and destroyed four enemy sampans. After the Navy launched Operation SEALORDS (Southeast Asia, Lake, Ocean, River and Delta Strategy) in late 1968, Hernandez frequently volunteered for reconnaissance missions into rivers and canals in enemy territory—many of them never before penetrated by friendly forces. These missions helped to determine whether the waterways could be navigated by U.S. patrol craft, such as Coast Guard patrol boats or the Navy's newly-introduced, shallow-draft Swift Boats and PBRs (patrol boat, river). Profile view of Coast Guard Cutter Point Cypress showing 50-caliber machine guns mounted on the fantail and amidships with 81mm mortar/50-caliber combination mounted on the bow. Courtesy of Gordon M. Gillies 28 RESERVIST � Issue 4 • 2018

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