Mission And organizational Structure Of The
1097th Transportation Company (Medium Boat)
- The 1097th Transportation Company (MB) is authorized 19 LCM-8s and is organized under the Table of Organization and Equipment number 55-128E. The mission stated in the TOE is:
- To provide and operate Landing Craft for the movement of personnel and cargo in Army water terminal operations, Army Waterborne Tactical Operations and to Augment, when required Naval Craft in joint amphibious operations.
- On the 26th of June 1967, the 1097th Transportation Company (MB) departed Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam where it performed a combat logistical mission by off loading ships in the streams as well as transport cargo of all types up and down the coast of Vietnam from Vung Ro Bay to Phan Rang, and sailed down the coast of Vietnam to the Mekong Delta and their new duty station at Dong Tam. Upon arrival the 1097th assumed a unique, and never before performed mission for LCM-8s and a medium boat command. The 1097th became part of a river warfare organization, with the mission of operating in the Mekong Delta.
- To accomplish the task of subduing the Viet Cong in the Delta, the 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division became completely waterborne by living on converted LSTs. The US Navy was given the mission to man the converted LSTs and also deliver the Infantrymen into battle by their LCM-6s, and the 3rd Battalion 34th Artillery was attached to the 2nd brigade, as their "King of Battle". The 3rd Battalion 34th Artillery had their two batteries, of twelve 105mm Howitzers, mounted on six artillery barges. The artillery barges were designed to haul two 105mm Howitzers, with storage space at the bow and stern for 105mm Howitzer Ammunition, and living quarters in the middle for the gun crews.
- A method was needed to maneuver these barges with the waterborne Infantry. It was found that the LCM-6s were too small and lacked the power to maneuver the barges on the curvy and strong current rivers of the Delta, and it was decided that an LCM-8 would perform the mission and the 1097th Transportation Company (MB) was designated for the task.
- The present mission of the 1097th Trans Co (MB) is:
- In direct support of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Artillery of the 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, by maneuvering their 105mm Howitzers, which are mounted on barges into battle.
- A general support mission of Dong Tam Base, RVN.
- A general support mission of its Battalion Headquarters in Vung Tao, the US Army Transportation Battalion VT/Delta (Prov).
- To accomplish this unique and new river warfare concept, the 1097th became 90% mobile on the 1st of August 1967, with a rear detachment at Dong Tam. All of the LCMs have living quarters built on the stern of the vessel to accommodate 6 men. These quarters are very comfortable, and 1st and 2nd Platoon personnel are completely mobile living on their vessels. Also, a new concept of vessel maintenance was achieved by designing and constructing a Floating Maintenance Facility Barge (FMFB), that would accompany the unit anywhere in the Delta, and be the base maintenance capability for its Damage Control Vessel (DCV) to operate from. The vessel mechanics lived on the DVC and the FMFB, thus the entire maintenance platoon is water mobile. Also the communication section and orderly room personnel live on the FMFB.
- the 1097th developed the below organizational structure to accomplish its mission in the Mekong Delta:
a. Mobile Command
Since there are no manuals, textbooks or TO&Es to cover this specific type of river warfare support, the 1097th has developed the following procedures and policies to accomplish its mission.
- The 3rd Battalion, 34th Artillery needed a place to locate the Fire Direction Centers (FDC) and Command Posts (CP) of the Battalion and Batteries. The well-decks of the LCMs filled these needs perfectly.
- The 1097th provided 3 vessels to each Battery to maneuver the Battalions 6 Artillery Barges. In the well-decks of the 6 vessels contained the following structures.
(1) 2 – FDCs (Fire Direction Center)
(2) 2 – CPs (Command Posts)
(3) 1 – First Aid Station
(4) 1 – Battalion Command Post
- To provide a capability to land helicopters at the Fire Support Base of the Artillery, a helicopter barge was designed and is maneuvered by 1 LCM-8 which has the Battalion FDC in its well-deck. Helicopters can also land while the barge is being maneuvered by the LCM.
- All barges are normally maneuvered by tying the barge to the port or starboard side of the LCM in a hip tow. The barges have been towed behind the vessels when the situation required this type of handling.
- The Damage Control Vessel (DCV) is commanded by an outstanding Staff Sergeant. The vessel has a welder and a salvage pump in the front of its well-deck. A PLL (Prescribed Load List) and spare parts are kept on the vessel as well as the Common Tool Set #1 as well as work benches. This vessel accompanies the fire support base and 1st Platoon at all times. It never returns to the FMFB for resupply. Also their motto is "Never deadline a vessel" and that is exactly what they do. These outstanding soldiers have changed engines underway, and performed unique feats of welding while underway. Also the DCV is used for a wrecker vessel in all convoy moves. If a vessel of the 1st platoon develops any engine trouble while we are on a tactical move. The DCV comes along side and ties up to the vessel. While the DCV and the troubled vessel are continuing to move, a mechanic goes aboard and starts repairing or locating the problem area. This method has proven beneficial, and allows the fleet to continue on its mission. Without creating a gap in the tactical convoy, which could prove dangerous. The DCV aids in maneuvering the FMFB when necessary, but only if it can’t be helped since it is not desirable to tie down the DCV.
- Maintenance Barge
A. To achieve 90% mobility, the 1097th designed and constructed from its own resources material and labor, the "USAV Yongue", the floating Maintenance Facility Barge of the unit. Located on the barge are a Orderly Room, Barber Shop, BOQ, living quarters for maintenance men, shower, water-basins, plus latrines, also a Welding Shop, Vessel Supply Office with the units PLL; engine and parts rebuild shop, machine shop, electrical shop, communications shop and control. The Maintenance Barge is anchored with the Navy Task Force 117 LSTs. It is maneuvered by two LCM-8s from the Second Platoon or the two LCM-8s that carry ammunition and meals for the First Platoon. The barge is treated as a ship and all Naval procedures are strictly followed. The Maintenance Barge has a public address system for announcing the arrival or departure of all Officers as well as conducting administrative needs of the barge. The barge has rebuilt engines and continually rebuilds parts for the fleet. The Maintenance Sergeant, who is in complete control, commands it. Also, this individual acts as the Field First Sergeant of the mobile Command.
- First Platoon
- The First Platoon of the 1097th Transportation Company has the mission of maneuvering all the barges of the Fire Support Base of the 3rd Battalion 34th Artillery. This being 6 Artillery Barges and one Helicopter Barge. The Fire Support Base utilizes two more LCM-8s for ammunition resupply and mess resupply. These well-decks are left completely empty with the exception that one of the LCMs contains 2 water trailers, so that water can be resupplied to the Fire Support Base.
- The First Platoon utilizes 9 LCM-8s to accomplish the above mission. The breakdown of each vessel and what it contains in the well-deck as well as what type of barge it maneuvers is in enclosure #4. Before discussing the Second Platoon, I will now discuss the Maintenance Platoon of the 1097th and its unique organization to accomplish the river warfare mission.
- Maintenance Platoon
The Maintenance Platoon is divided into two separate sections, which can operate separately for continued periods of time. The Commanding Officer is designated as the Maintenance Officer to give the much needed command emphasis to Vessel Maintenance.
- Before discussing the two Maintenance Sections, the Damage Control Vessels and Maintenance Barge, a little background on how and where maintenance must be performed is necessary.
- In the 1097th Combat Support Mission, Preventative Maintenance is preformed constantly and scheduled maintenance is performed at the mission site using some very unique methods. Some of these methods are:
- Allowing the vessels to go high and dry when the tide goes out to do necessary welding and checking and changing the cutlasses and shafts.
- Changing entire banks of engines and reinstalling them while underway since the fleet normally receives one or two days at Dong Tam. The vessels must be able to move at a moments notice.
- Fabricating parts until requisitions are filled so that the combat mission can be performed.
- Performing depot maintenance when necessary.
- Since 1 July 1967, the 1097th has maintained a minimum of 90% of its vessels operational and normally 100% is kept fully operational, this is not a passing theory and will continue as long as necessary.
- Lets now discuss the two Maintenance sections:
- Second Platoon
- The Second Platoon has the mission of maneuvering two 4.2 Mortar Barges (see enclosure 7) which give the Navy Task Force 117s LST an indirect fire capability on their defense plan. In the well-deck of one LCM-8s used in the mission is constructed a floating company dayroom (see enclosure 8). The other vessel has a 5000 gallon fuel tanker in its well-deck so that the fleet can be refueled anywhere and anytime while underway.
- The Second Platoon has one LCM-8 on special duty to our Battalion Headquarters in Vung Tau in general support of the harbor there.
- At Dong Tam two LCM-8s are utilized to perform the general support mission. They perform such missions as the daily trash run by putting the trash in trucks in the well-deck of the vessel and dumping the trash in the canal. Also one LCM-8 is test firing of the 155 Artillery piece from its well-deck. Insertion and extraction of Infantry Platoons is performed by these two LCM-8s when needed as well as any mission that might be needed by Dong Tam Base and Task Force Funston Commander.
- The Second Platoon also furnishes one LCM-8 to maneuver the Maintenance Barge. In its well deck is constructed a POW interrogation compound in which detainees can be interrogated and questions quickly and efficiently at the Fire Support Base (see enclosure 9).
- As you can see the Second Platoon has its vessels located all over the Mekong Delta. The 1097th has only sixteen LCM-8s at the present time and the shortage of three LCM-8s is carried by the Second Platoon. These three LCM-8s are in Okinawa for rebuild. The 1097th must maintain all its vessels operational to be able to perform its direct and general support missions. A breakdown of the vessels of the Second Platoon and what each vessel maneuvers and has constructed in its well-deck is in enclosure 4.
- Command Vessel – Enclosure 10
- Finally, under the mobile concept is the Commanding Officer’s Command Vessel, an LCM-6. This vessel has a conference room, living quarters for the CO plus crew, and an office constructed in the well-deck. There is also space in the front of the vessel for a jeep. The Commanding Officer can conduct the following functions from the vessel:
- Control of the fleet on all tactical moves.
- Conduct reconnaissance of position.
- Escort the LCM-8 ammo vessels.
- Extract wounded personnel.
- Set up a blocking position at canal and river intersections so that all vessels follow the exact route. All moves are normally made at night, it is very easy for an LCM-8 to get disorientated at these intersections.
- Coordinate with the Navy escort LCM-6s.
- This vessel has two M-60 machine guns mounted on the port and starboard side, with a .50 caliber machine gun at the stern. The Command Vessel has proven invaluable for Command and Control of the fleet, and allows the Commanding Officer to travel between the First Platoon at the FSB and the Maintenance Barge. Also the vessel enables the CO to return to the Rear Detachment once a week at Dong Tam.
- Rear Detachment Command
- The organizational structure for the Rear Detachment is as follows:
The Rear Detachment never exceeds fifty men and is under the command of the Executive Officer, and the First Sergeant.
The following sections are at Dong Tam:
1st Comp Platoon
- Administrative Section – The Rear Detachment Commander coordinates all administrative matters with our Battalion and forwards all items to the Orderly Room on the Maintenance Barge. Many administrative matters are handled by the Rear Detachment to speed up the always problem area of the company administration.
- Motor Pool – The entire Motor Pool is located at Dong Tam.
- Mess Section – The 1097th has consolidated their mess hall with the 574th Service and Supply Company due to the small amount of men in the Rear Detachment. All the Mess Equipment has been depot stored, and the cooks have been given a shift at the consolidated mess.
- The 1097th Transportation Company (Medium Boat) is a "Can Do" outfit, proud of its accomplishments and always striving for perfection, all missions are approached with enthusiasm and a desire to excel and produce results. We welcome all to visit or return to Dong Tam and enjoy our hospitality and if at all possible to visit our fleet at the mission site. If there are any questions on the mission and organizational structure of the 1097th, please contact us at Dong Tam 142.
William G. Pagonis
(Note as soon as I get my scanner I will post all of the enclosures from this document on my page)