PACV in Vietnam
PACV in Vietnam
During my time in Vietnam I was assigned to Task Force Clearwater as staff intelligence officer for three months, April-July, 1968. The task force was made up of various types of patrol craft, one of which was the Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle, PACV. Our two PACVs were located at Tan My on the Perfume River near the city of Hue.
The PACV basically is a helo that floats on a cushion of air. The huge engine provides the thrust to inflate the cushion as well as propel the craft. The crew consists of a “pilot” and “co-pilot” with occasional gunners or, as in my case, a passenger. Operating the PACV was not dissimilar to flying a helo 24 inches off the water. The PACVs were used in the shallow and grassy inshore coastal waters because it could “fly” over the grass and mud that precluded the use of conventional boats.
The night I hitched a ride on a PAVC on patrol in Cau Nai Bay was one night I will never forget. As we were speeding along we hit a low lying dike. We came to an abrupt halt causing everything in the cockpit that was not fastened down to come flying forward. Helmets, flag jackets, weapons and miscellaneous junk, pummeled us from behind. I was certainly glad I was wearing my helmet and flag jacket. The PACV was hung up on the dike. The pilot dislodged the PACV by rocking back and forth until he could get it off the dike and into clear water. We then proceeded with no damage to the PACV.
Later we came upon a fishing boat out too early in the morning. It was not full daylight yet and being out on the water at that time was a violation of curfew. When we came roaring up to the boat, stopped and pulled up to it, the occupants were probably frightened out of their wits. The PAVC was painted with huge teeth, made a horrendous roar and to the poor fishermen must have looked like a snarling sea monster about to devour them.
Captain Herman W. Hughes, US Navy, Retired