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The Vietnam Combatant Craft Crewman pin

This pin designed by Tom Nielsen (T-132-6) and was approved for production by the three organizations which own the copyright, the Mobile Riverine Force Association, the Swiftboat Sailors Association, and the PBR Forces, Vietnam Association.  Here's the story behind the pin.  The sailors in these three organizations owe a great deal of thanks to H. Bruce McIver and especially to Mike Harris, an MRF sailor on an Armored Troop Carrier in Vietnam.  The following information is from Mike and the "I" referred to below is Mike and not Don Blankenship.  We all thank Mike and Bruce for their efforts in getting this pin authorized for us.

From Mike Harris:

When Bruce McIver (T-131-7 & Naval Advisor) heard about the new Navy "Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman" (SWCC) insignia in 2000 he brought it to my attention. Bruce and I then discussed the matter and felt that we Vietnam riverine craft sailors should be "grandfathered" into the award. We checked with Albert Moore and he gave us the go-ahead to pursue it.

Bruce and I drafted a letter to Admiral Vern Clarke, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), dated July 10, 2002. We requested that his office consider awarding the SWCC insignia retroactively to our Mobile Riverine Force - TF-117 combat assault sailors. The CNO, and the current Special Warfare Command, felt that our sailors did not meet the more stringent criteria for the new modern SWCC insignia, but they did offer us the opportunity to submit a new insignia for consideration. 

Bruce and I then began working closely with Tom Forrest (TF-115) and Robert Gray, RMCM (USN Ret. - TF-116) on this matter. It has truly been a "joint operation" over the past 3 years.

I am proud to pass along the news that we were informed by the Department of the Navy on August 22, 2005 that our "Vietnam Combatant-Craft Crewman" insignia design has been officially approved for production. It is a "commemorative" award for Task Forces 115, 116 and 117 combat-craft sailors that has been officially sanctioned and approved by the Department of the Navy. 

I am also thrilled to let you know that our own Tom Nielsen (T-132-6), who designed and painted the "Mobile Riverine Force Poster", is the gentleman who designed the insignia that has been officially approved..!

Let's give a big BRAVO ZULU to Tom as he has captured the essence of our history in this insignia design. The (3) stars represent the (3) naval Task Forces. The ribbon that the stars are on is the Vietnam Service Medal Streamer. He has depicted the Vietnamese jungle in the background. The rest is self-explanatory.

Here is a copy of the official letter from USMC Major General G. C. Nash:

Please do your best to circulate this information to others who may not have Internet access.

The Department of the Navy always contracts out the production of all officially Navy insignia. This will be no different with the new "Vietnam Combatant-Craft Crewman" device. Our (3) Task Force associations are presently getting bids and will let you know the cost as soon as we know.

The insignia will not be entered into each sailor's individual record, but, due to the official approval by the Department of the Navy, the device may be openly displayed and worn in public.

Update 12/2/05: A 2nd proto-type has been received by our (3) Task Forces and is being scrutinized for quality. We will keep you posted.

Please give a BIG THANKS to Bruce McIver for staying the course and to Albert Moore who encouraged us along the way..!

This award is something we all can be proud of as it is we who carved our history into the official navy annuls through our blood, sweat and tears...

Warm Regards,
Mike Harris

Official Criteria Denoting Eligibility
(this applies to the Mobile Riverine Force Association only...  Note that each organization is responsible for setting the criteria for eligibility)

From: Mobile Riverine Force Association

To: All former Navy Task Force 117 and Task Force 194 combatant-craft crewmen as well as staff chaplains and corpsmen. This includes:


1. Purpose:  To issue the requirements for qualification and designation of personnel qualified to wear the Vietnam Combatant-Craft Crewman (VCCC) insignia.

2. Discussion: During the Vietnam War only officers and senior enlisted men who were in command for at least 6 months were authorized to wear the Small Craft Insignia (SCI). Junior enlisted personnel were never given the opportunity to wear an insignia. The commemorative Vietnam Combatant-Craft Crewman insignia is a way to bring recognition to these brave sailors for their tremendous sacrifices in combat on the small rivers and canals of the I, III and IV Corps regions of South Vietnam.

3. Eligibility: 

a. Any individual who was assigned to and underwent Riverine Assault and Interdiction training at the “Naval Inshore Operations Training Center” (NIOTC) at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California from 1966 through 1970 and has official documentation in his naval record. This includes the following:

Task Force 117 and Task Force 194

* River Assault Squadron 9 – River Assault Divisions 91 & 92
* River Assault Squadron 11 – River Assault Divisions 111 & 112
* River Assault Squadron 13 – River Assault Divisions 131 & 132
* River Assault Squadron 15 – River Assault Divisions 151 & 152
* River Assault Division 153
* Riverine Strike Group

b. Chaplains and Corpsmen who were trained to accompany the combatant-craft crewmen on missions in the Republic of Vietnam.

4. Standards: Personnel will have completed instruction in the following training:

a. Small Boat Operation and Safety
b. Weaponry – U.S. and enemy
c. Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE)
d. First Aid
e. Swimming and Rescue
f. Cross Culture
g. Counterinsurgency and Guerrilla Warfare
h. Communications
i. Navigation
j. Riverine Tactics
k. Transportation of Troops and Supporting them Ashore
l. Contraband Cargo and other Suspicious Items
m. Gray Marine Diesel Engines
n. Crewmember Cross Training
o. Other specific Training as needed

5. Approval of Qualification: 

The insignia is being approved using the “honor system”. If an individual meets the qualifications listed above then he is qualified to wear and display the insignia.

6. Designation and Authority to Wear the Insignia:

The Department of the Navy has given approval of the commemorative insignia per a letter from Major General G.C. Nash, U.S. Marine Corps, Director, Expeditionary Warfare Division (N75) dated August 22, 2005 - 1650/Ser N751/5U930233. 

By Direction of the Mobile Riverine Force Association

Signed: Albert Moore, President

Important Note: Albert simply granted authorization to Mike Harris and Bruce McIver to pursue an insignia beginning in 2001. Since the authorization of the VCCC Albert has been receiving many emails regarding "Who is Eligible?". If you have any questions regarding the VCCC Insignia then please direct them to Mike using the email below instead of Albert. Thank You...

If you are an MRFA member and would like to order the VCCC, click the link below:

How to Order the VCCC

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