COMMANDER PCF DIVISION 101
FPO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 96601
15 December 1966
Familygram from Commander PCF Division 101
This family gram is written as a means of informing you, the families and friends of Patrol Craft Fast Division One Zero One, concerning the contributions the Division is making in Vietnam and specifically what part all of you at home play in this contribution.
I wish that I could write a personal letter to each and everyone of you, but time precludes this. However, the holiday season does bring with it the welcome opportunity for me to extend my warmest regards and best wishes to you for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Since 1 October it has been my sincere pleasure to serve with these outstanding men as their Commander. Their dedication, untiring efforts, and high spirits have been the ingredients for a job well done of which you can be extremely proud.
Basically the SWIFT boats along with other units of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard form up what is termed the MARKET TIME Forces. MARKET TIME is the unclassified code name for the United States operation to stop waterborne infiltration of arms, ammunition, agents, and supplies to the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam. Therefore, our primary mission is anti-infiltration and surveillance., but the SWIFT boat is also performing a second function in Vietnam, that is Naval Gunfire Support. Both of these functions I might add, are being done in such an outstanding manner to the extent that it is reported there is very little, if any, infiltration occurring in the Gulf of Thailand. Much of the credit for this achievement goes to the Officers and Crews of the Division who day in and day out go on patrol. For this you all should be very proud.
Allow me to give you a little background and history of the Division. Established on 20 October 1965, the Division is now comprised of fifteen PCFs. The first of five such Divisions, the unit arrived in Vietnam on 30 October 1965 and successfully engaged Communist Insurgents a day later. Since then, the Division's units have participated in action against the Viet Cong on more than one hundred occasions.
The Division is now comprised of twenty-three officers and one hundred and twenty enlisted men divided into boat crews. A crew is comprised of one officer and five enlisted men who are trained as a team so that if the need arises one man can step in and do the other's job. The crews must be constantly alert 24 hours a day for they never know when the VC will strike. A crew inspects over one hundred and fifty junks in one week and must always be alert for infiltration of supplies and draft dodgers.
Being based at An Thoi, Phu Quoc Island, the men have had an opportunity to help the small village located there. A few months ago the little village was caught in a fire which quickly spread. The men rushed to their aid, spent many hours combating the fire, and when the fire was extinguished, the men did not quit. They provided shelter for the people that lost their homes, contributed money, food, clothing, and helped in every way possible to restore the village.
At the present time the Division is still working with the Vietnamese people. The Catholic church at An Thoi is in the process of being repainted. Another task the SWIFTs have undertaken is adopting an island. In our patrol areas are many inhabited islands, so each boat crew has chosen an island as their own. They visit these islands whenever possible and give aid as needed, particularly medical care. This is one of the many ways in which the men have gone out on their own to show their friendship and sincere desire to assist the Vietnamese people in becoming a Free Nation. It must be remembered that A SWIFT Division sees as many if not more Vietnamese people on the average than any other unit of the United States Armed Forces in Vietnam. Thus, the crews are actually ambassadors of good will and serving as an extension of the United States People to People Program.
The Division has as its insignia "SNOOPY," the immortal creation of Charles M. Schultz. Snoopy, in his role as "NUMBAH ONE WATCHDOG," symbolizes the Division as 101 was the first of its kind, the first in Vietnam, the first in combat, and the first in the hearts of its men. Snoopy, the watchdog, expresses the dedication and vigilance of PCF surveillance patrols. The phonetic significance of "NUMBAH ONE," is understood by the men who are serving in Vietnam as the best in everyway. I think you will agree, it is an appropriate motto for PCF Division 101.
During the holiday season the traditional Christmas dinner will be served aboard our home, APL-55. There are two Christmas parties being planned in order that each man may have the opportunity to participate if he desires. Also there will be an opportunity for the men to worship as Church services will be held. We have been fortunate in obtaining some Christmas decorations and trimmings so that the APL has been decorated for the holiday season.
What part do all of you at home in the States play? Actually, a very important part, for it is your letters and packages that really make the one year tour in Vietnam go faster. When the plane loaded with mail lands at An Thoi the spirit and morale of the men who receives letters rises. So please keep them coming as they are one very important indication that you are thinking of us.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you the parents, wives, and friends of the Officers and Crews of Patrol Craft Fast Division One Zero One for the fine men with whom I am now serving in Vietnam. I intend to the utmost of my ability to make their one year tour in Vietnam as pleasant as possible and see that they are speedily returned to you after their tour is completed.
Once again have a Happy Holiday Season.
Nathan L. Astleford
Nathan L. Astleford
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