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This is a story of Operation Market Time, a joint mission designed to seal off the coastline of South Vietnam and prevent infiltration of troops and supplies from North Vietnam by sea. It in-cluded elements of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and the U.S. Air Force. I wanted to tell the story of these brave men in a format that would be informative and interesting to the Veteran and non-veteran alike. I chose to write fiction-based on fact for several reasons.
I have been reading the books of Jack Higgins, the author of “The Eagle Has Landed” and many other books about WWII and the struggle of the Irish People. In many of his books he takes a real life event and weaves a fictional story about it, keeping the story intact but using fictional characters to make the story come alive. I have read all of his books but one and it is unavailable in print. Every one of his books were page turners and I have become a real fan of this author. Although I will be using the basic format i.e. telling a fictional story based on a true incident, I am not copying his work rather using his style of writing. The names of the crews and sometimes the boats are fictional but the actual events really happened. In my research for this book, I extensively used the Commander Naval Forces Vietnam monthly summaries to tell the true part of my story. My purpose is to tell the story of Operation Market Time because this was the origi-nal mission of Swift Boats and the Coast Guard in Vietnam. Because of its effectiveness, the enemy was forced to move his troops and supplies inland thus creating the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This resulted in the battle for the Mekong Delta region taking place in the winding waterways of this area. It also moved the war further inland because the enemy was now reaching for Saigon using trails through sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia. Swift Boats joined in that battle as well as part of Operation Giant Slingshot with the specific mission known as Sea Lords. Swift Boats were assigned to the major rivers of the Mekong Delta and while patrolling these rivers would make lightening raids up the narrow canals and waterways deep into Viet Cong territory disrupt-ing his flow of supplies and material.
This story has been told many ways by many authors because it involved firefights and ambushes on a daily basis. Market Time Operations however, consisted of coastal patrols that were for the most part very dull and boring with occasional firefights and ambushes. But it was only when the Market Time units moved in close to shore and came within range of the enemy, that the fire-fights erupted. With the open sea behind them, the Swift Boats could easily use their speed to move out of range of the enemy and to assess the situation before attacking the target.
At a gathering of Swifties in Washington D.C. in 1995, Senator John Kerry a Swiftie himself would describe a Market Time Patrol as “Twenty three plus hours of boredom interrupted by a few minutes of sheer terror”.
Sit back and enjoy the story of Market Time Sailors as they form a bond that only a small crew in combat can do.