Southern Cross information
for 5/46 INF

For date 710122

5/46 INF was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Chu Lai
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Infantrymen play with 'rubber ducky' " by SP4 Guy Winkler 23rd Inf. Div. IO. CHU LAI - You might think that an infantry company that plays with "rubber ducks" has been in the field too long, but when Bravo Company from the 23rd Infantry Division's 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, plays with "rubber ducks" while on maneuvers - watch out Charlie. On a mission about 14 miles west of Chu Lai recently, the 198th Infantry Brigade company discovered that they were on the wrong side of the Song Ba Ky River in order to search out an enemy force which was observed on the opposite side. After the order was given to cross the swiftly flowing river, six men from Echo Company, 26th Engineers were flown by helicopter to the location with two inflatable rafts to transport the men across the yards of water. "This will be the first river crossing by raft that the battalion had ever done while in Vietnam," said Captain Roger Templar of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., commanding officer of Bravo Company. Artillery fire from the 1st Battalion, 14th Artillery and Landing Zone Ky Tra was requested by the company to scare up enemy elements which might have been waiting in the brush of the other side. After artillery peppered the east side of the river, Bravo Company moved the rafts to the river and began to inflate them for the "Swing line" crossing. Bad luck popped up as the rafts were being inflated for the crossing. The first raft had two holes in it and was discarded. The "Spare" one was inflated, but it too had several holes. The necessary patch-work was performed on the spare raft as infantrymen and engineers pitched in to glue patches on the holes. The Raft was too wet for gluing patches, so wooden pegs were inserted in the holes and covered with glue. It was ready for launching. After tying one end of a rope to a tree, an attempt was made by Specialist Daryl Hart of San Hose, Calif., to swim to the other end to the opposite side and tie it to a tree in order to guide the raft across without being washed down stream. The current of the 15-foot deep river caught Hart and swept him down stream, clinging to the life preserver tied to the end of the rope. Hart was pulled ashore as PFC Walter Colon of New York City stripped down to make the long swim against the pulling current. He made it in about two minutes and tied the rope to a tree. The "Rubber ducky," as christened by the company, was lowered into the water for its historic crossing of the Song Ba Ky River. Using one raft, ten trips were required to transport the company across the river. Asked why a helicopter wasn't used to lift the men across the river to save more time, CPT Templar said,, "Time wasn't the deciding factor in this mission. It was just to get the men across. Besides," he said, "It would have tied up a helicopter which is needed elsewhere." The "rubber ducky" served its purpose as Company B scored a first for the 5th Battalion to cross a river without getting wet, except for Specialist Hart and PFC Colon. Photos and Captions: 1) PFC Walter Colon, a member of Company B, 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, from New York City pulls himself back to shore after swimming across the Song Ba Ky River 14 miles west of Chu Lai. 2) The rubber raft gets loaded in preparation for its mission fulfillment. 3) The launching of the "rubber ducky" is a success as she is swing-lined across the Song Ba Ky River with Company B. (Ten soldiers fill the raft). 4) CPT Roger Templar patches up the "rubber ducky" after a hole is discovered in it. 5) Soldiers from Company B begin to inflate the makeshift craft for their first try. 6) The engineers pull the ducky to shore with the soldiers of the company after crossing the river. 7) The rubber ducky holds up well transporting part of the company across the river. Who says the bush can't be fun.

The source for this information was 7101_404_scr supplied by Les Hines 01/2000

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Last updated 12/13/2000

Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023