I'm going to show you some of the PBRs now being loaded up and I'm going to show you some of the unofficial modifications that we made. The veterans here will notice that these are both the Mark II Boats, and there's several ways to know that. One, the two 50-caliber guns, which are dead center in the picture, are far enough apart that the gunner will sit more or less between them. On the earlier Mark I Boats, the barrels were close together and the gunner sat more behind them than between them. You'll also note the Herculon cover over the barrels being pulled back for maintenance, and you'll notice a big spotlight on the side of the gun. You'd leave this off until the last minute and then turn this on when it was time to shoot. The gun itself could be trained left and right electrically. You'll notice the railings or gunnels. It's a stronger metal and it enables the boat to be picked up out of the water with a crane. The drawback of it is up a canal that's got a lot of leaves and vines, a VC or a North Vietnamese could reach out and lay a live grenade up on that deck and because of that raised lip, the grenade would not roll off the deck and into the water and once the grenade was tossed up there, somebody had to be a hero real quick before everybody got killed. Now, look in the upper left corner of the picture, you'll see what looks like a chair from when you were in the first grade in school, underneath that plastic chair, there's a pedestal made up of four heavy springs and a steel plate. We came up with that ourselves. It drops in behind the two guns and the bow gunner sits on that and it has this for its purposes. If a mine or a grenade goes off under the bow of the boat, that sudden vertical movement could break his back and/or his neck. Sitting on the springs like that, it worked like a shock absorber and it made sure that the bow gunner might get hurt and bruised, but he certainly wasn't going to break any vertebrae or a skull in this.
Slide VAS022656, No Date, Edwin L. Oswald Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/items.php?item=VAS022656>.
Pub. Credit Line
VAS022656, Edwin L. Oswald Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University