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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 23, 2020

Reader submission: New Years' logs from the Vietnam era

John Fagan describes himself as "a former Coastie, and a Coastie spouse and Dad." He's also a MyCG reader, and when he saw our solicitation for your New Year's log entries, he wanted to participate. But instead of his own logs, he e-mailed us several written by Coast Guardsmen during the Vietnam War. "In pre-plague times, I volunteered a few hours a week at the National Archives, scanning documents," Fagan tells us. "I worked on a project to scan all the logs of cutters deployed to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War."

The one he finds most compelling was written by ENS George F. Jones, a member of the Coast Guard Reserve. He stood watch before daybreak on USCGC DUANE. They were part of Operation Market Time - Navy and Coast Guard patrol boats and cutters, which blockaded the South Vietnam coastline from "innocent" trawlers waiting for darkness to deliver ammunition to Viet Cong fighters waiting on shore. 

The watch log from Jan. 1, 1968, from the USCGC DUANE off the southern coast of Vietnam.USCGC DUANE (WHEC-33)
0000-0400, Jan. 1 1968
At/Passage from: Patrolling Market Time Area Five

Here we are, we're underway
Starting out this New Year's Day
The monsoon is blowing, there is no lee
On Market Time Five in the South China Sea.
Conditions are set; Dog Zebra and Yoke; 
The VC [Viet Cong] are out there, and that's no joke.
With running lights on, all burning bright,
We'll maintain our vigil, thru-out the night.
We hope we won't need it, but in case we do;
Rigged out and ready, is boat number two.
We're under the OPCON of CTF one one five;
To do our best, we always strive.
And it's not easy, this job that we do;
As Element Commander, Triple point two.
Next year at this time, we hope not to be
On Market Time Patrol in the South China Sea
- George F. Jones, Ensign, USCGR

Note: Operation Market Watch ended in 1973. It is credited with dramatically reducing the Viet Cong's resupply efforts along the South Vietnamese coast.

  • The Jan. 1, 1970 log from the USCGC CHASE on a surveillance mission in Southeast Asia. The unnamed watchstander The Jan. 1, 1970 log from the USCGC CHASE on a surveillance mission in Southeast Asia.wrote, "We sail in mystery, I can't divulge our location ... Yoke is set, Zebra is dogged, in hopes we can't be seen."

The Jan. 1, 1970 log from USCGC Blackhaw, at USNS Sangley Point, R.P., had a more relaxed start to the new year. RMZ PoPo Calvin. starts with "As t'was the custom in the past, In writing logs before the mast, I will enter these first few lines, In the grammatical manner of simple rhymes." He goes on to note that most of the ship's crew is on liberty, and adds, "The Commanding Officer is remains absent this day, Either at home or the Filipina's Hotel he will stay."​