TANGO - 14 (Call sign “IRMA“)


BM-1 Ray F. Longaker Jr. was assigned to River Assault Division (RAD) 131 in October 1969 as Boat Captain of Tango-14. He arrived to Dong Tam in October 1969 approximately four months after the Ninth Infantry had rotated out, plus River Squadron NINE and River Squadron ELEVEN had been decommissioned and their boats transferred to the Vietnamese Navy. Also, all the boats of the River Squadron THIRTEEN and River Squadron FIFTEEN had been renumbered. The Tango he was assigned was originally an LCM(6) Mod 1 Program 4 Armored Troop Carrier (ATC), which was designated as T-111-6. When he took over as Boat Captain she had been converted to a Program 5 Water Cannon boat ATC(W) under Project "Douche" and renumbered to T-14 when assigned to RAD 131.

"I never saw my Commanding Officer, William M. Kahn, who was apparently up to his ears in “alligators” down in Song Ong Doc while my crew and I on T-14 were being dispatched TAD to the various PBR and RAD bases maintaining the Giant Slingshot operating areas on the Song Vam Co, Song Vam Co Tay and Song Vam Co Dong. In addition my crew and I of T-14 were assigned to support other units including Navy SEALs and their operations in the Rung Sat Special Zone and other RADs up on the Vinh Te Canal. With the Program 5 Water Cannon system Tango-14’s assignments were to search out and destroy NVA/VC fighting positions. The Water Cannon system took its water suction directly from the river and discharged 2,700 gallons of water a minute at 250 pounds of pressure at the nozzles through two STANG water cannons developed by the Naval Sea Systems Command....Some time prior to my taking over Tango-14 I learned from my new crew, a couple of which were within weeks of rotating back to “CONUS” and who had been through the boat’s Program 5 conversion said that the “officers” called the boat a douché boat. For some reason that term always and still does irritate me. Don’t know why, just wrong. So, being a ‘good’ Boatswains Mate I got some black and yellow striping paint and in 10” navy standard block letters painted “IRMA-LA-DOUCHÉ,” in black letters with ¼” yellow trim. Without authority I also changed the boat’s call sign to “Irma” and that’s the way it stayed until I had to turn her over to the VN Navy. Later, when I took over Tango-32 I did the same with her. In mid-1970 I was ordered to clean-up Tango-14, go through a “material inspection” and then turn the boat over to the Vietnamese Navy."