The U.S. Naval Advisory Effort in Vietnam

An Inside Perspective


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About the Book

An advisor to the South Vietnamese Navy Mobile Riverine Forces in 1970–1971, U.S. Navy Commander Richard Kirtley was tasked with helping implement Nixon’s policy of “Vietnamization”—the rapid drawdown of U.S. troops to bring an abortive end to the Vietnam War. The program called for the turnover of arms and equipment to South Vietnamese forces, while U.S. personnel trained their counterparts to continue fighting the war alone. The U.S. Navy’s supporting effort, Accelerated Turnover to the Vietnamese (ACTOV), emphasized “Accelerated.” Kirtley’s account gives an up-close look at the futility and frustration of the advisory effort during the withdrawal, the implementation of both programs—doomed to failure yet hyped to cover a lost-cause retreat—and their disastrous outcomes.

About the Author(s)

CDR R.W. Kirtley, USN (Ret) is a retired 20 year Navy Vietnam veteran, followed by 18 years as an executive with Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. He is also a humorous motivational speaker, stand up comedian, artist, and author. He lives in Palm Coast, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

CDR R.W. Kirtley, USN (Ret)

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 218
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8695-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4469-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 4
1. The Early Years 11
2. Vietnam from the Gulf 15
3. “DASH” to Vietnam 24
4. Riverine Training 31
5. Here I Am… Take My Advice! (First Impressions) 41
6. The Big Picture 46
7. Meet, Greet and Settle In 50
8. Down to Business 58
9. The Master Chief and Other Loose Ends 64
10. Organization and Ground Rules 67
11. Spend Half a Tour in Go Dau Ha and Whaddya Get? 72
12. Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt 83
13. The Kenner Ski Boat 96
14. Saigon 108
15. The President Hotel 112
16. Change Is Inevitable 120
17. Round ’Em Up and Move ’Em Out 124
18. Dong Tam 127
19. Ca Mau—Gateway to the U Minh 132
20. “Haunted Forest—I’d Turn Back If I Were You!” 139
21. Establishing a Routine 144
22. Christmas in the U Minh 149
23. Another Boat Down 152
24. Moving North 160
25. The Flower Girl Is Dead 165
26. Tears on the Tarmac 169
27. The Aftermath 171
28. Heartbreak Revisited 177
29. Career Change and the Fall 181
30. Reflection and Takeaways 185
Epilogue 195
Commander Kirtley’s Service Career History 199
Appendix 1 201
Appendix 2 203
Chapter Notes 205
Bibliography 207
Index 209