The Cogido Barge and Docks
~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
This Page Last Updated   3 May 2011
The History Project is looking for stories, information, and photographs of duty at the docks and barge site, if you would like to contribute please use the Email Link above.
     Located on the northeast bank of the Dong Nai River, west of Long Binh Post. The site was an ammunition and fuel storage barge site on the Dong Nai River with easy access to Long Binh Post and the City of Bien Hoa. The site was a major supply hub developed by the French during World War II and the First Indochina War.
18th Bde.
     The cargo of ammunition was off loaded from ocean going deep draft vessels at the Ports of Saigon, U.S. Army Terminal at Newport, and the anchorage at Cat Lai on the Be River near the mouth of the Saigon River.
     From there the ammunition was placed on shallow draft barges and towed north by civilian contracted and or U.S. Army river going tug boats, up the Dong Nai River to Cogido.
        The fuel barges would be loaded at the tank farm at Nha Be, then towed up river to other off loading sites including Cogido. The barges remained anchored in the Dong Nai River until needed, then off loaded to transport trucks for distribution to storage areas on Long Binh Post. From Long Binh the ammunition and fuel supplies would be convoyed by truck to various military bases throughout III Corps Tactical Zone.
     The Cogido barge site was under the control of the 4th Transportation Command. The 402nd Transportation Company supplemented the terminal operations at Cogido. Their unit headquarters was on Long Binh Post.
      The Battalion provided MPs for physical security at the facility. The duties were rotated between all three organic companies. The security assignments involved manning the 40 foot tall watch tower and onboard various barges waiting unloading in the river.
3 March, 2105 hours At 9:05 PM, CPT Ronald K. Riggs, A Company, Battalion Staff Duty Officer reported that SGT Vonnie A. Johnson of A Company, lost his 45 caliber pistol, SN#815153, in the river at the Cogido barge site while jumping from a barge to the pier. The holster caught onto a dock line dislodging the pistol from the holster.

4 March, 0830 Hours At 8:30 AM, CPT Ronald K. Riggs, Commanding Officer, A Company reported to this office that the 45 caliber pistol lost yesterday at the Cogido Docks by SGT Vonnie A. Johnson was recovered from the river.

 PFC Allan Craig Shroyer, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, died from an accidental, self inflicted, gunshot wound that occurred while standing guard duty at the Cogido Docks.

5 March, 2048 hours Battalion Operations (S3), were notified at 8:48 PM that some of the lights were out at the Cogido Ammunition Barge site and the engineers were working on them.
Exact date unknown The physical security mission was reassigned to the 95th MP Battalion (Long Binh Post) and the MPs were replaced by members of D or C Company, 87th Infantry (Rifle Security), subordinate to the 95th under the command umbrella of the 18th MP Brigade.

1 February During continued operations during the Tet Offensive the Battalion Reaction Force was called to assist Company D, 87th Infantry (Rifle Security) of the 95th MP Battalion, who were pinned down by enemy assault on the Cogido site.

     The 720th escorted reinforcements from the 557th MP Company, 95th MP Battalion, to the site. Upon arrival at the barge site they became the targets of heavy small arms fire and called for armored and air assistance. Helicopter gunships arrived on scene to assist the beleaguered MP security unit. An armored personnel carrier arrived from Battalion HQ and assisted in the evacuation of one man wounded in the exchange of gunfire. The response prevented the enemy from penetrating the barge site.

2 February, 1930 hours At 7:30 PM, The 95th MP Battalion requested an escort for one 2&1/2 ton truck of the Regional Forces Popular Forces, from Cogido to Duc Tu. C Company was notified.

2040 hours At 8:40 PM, the 1930 hours [7:30PM] request for C Company escorts for PF’s from Cogido to Duc Tu was canceled by CPT Steven Vass, Jr., Battalion Operations Officer.

12 September, 2031 hours B Company PBR apprehended four Vietnamese nationals on the sand ridge, Grid Coordinates [map location], YT012072, approximately 1,000 meters north of Cogido. One had no national identification card, the suspect was taken to the 720th MP Battalion S-2 [intelligence & Security] for interrogation. CPL Lyttle, 89th MP Group was notified.
14 September SGT Danny K. Ayres, D Company 87th Infantry (Rifle Security), 89th MP Group, was struck and killed by a 5 ton Kaiser truck of the 321st Transportation Company.

        The truck was proceeding north exiting from the Cogido Barge site. SGT Ayers was standing facing northeast approximately five feet west of the security guard gate. At this time the right front portion of the trailer struck Ayers from the back causing him to fall to the ground. As the vehicle proceeded past the gate the right rear wheels of the trailer ran over Ayres.

        SGT Ayers was transported to the 24th Evacuation Hospital, Long Binh Post, where he was pronounced dead at 1155 hours [11:55AM] from severe trauma injuries, by Dr. (CPT) John G. Downer.

        The vehicle did not receive any damage and was released to its unit. The driver was taken to Long Binh Post Provost Marshals Office and later released to his unit. No charges have been made pertaining to the accident.

        With the B Company River Patrol Unit move from the docks under the southern end of the Dong Nai River Bridge to the House Boat (floating barge) anchored in the river south of the bridge, the crews would change at the "Old French Pier." Cogido Docks.
June-July Unexploded ordnance is a terrible fact of war and for years, sometimes decades, war-torn countries continued to suffer casualties. In Vietnam it seemed the children, especially the young and inquisitive innocents who, only by their age, were the most ignorant of the dangers and became the most tragic of the casualties.
      It was a normal late afternoon start of an expected routine shift for the members of the B Company joint River Patrol Unit PBR crews. They arrived at the French Pier (Cogido Docks), and waited as the boats came in for refueling and crew change before once again departing to their House Boat HQ on the river for their evening assignments. The pier was a relatively safe zone so the crews were comfortable and relaxed in its surroundings. Some of the crew were sitting by the pier as others lounged around engaged in casual conversation when a nearby explosion disrupted the calm.
      As the surprised crews readied their weapons for the worst, two Vietnamese males suddenly appeared carrying the bloodied body of a young child. Fearing the possibility of an ambush the crews were hesitant and cautiously allowed them to approach. The child was a male no older than four years. He was covered in blood, his right arm was shredded, there was a gapping hole in his chest, his face was pockmarked from shrapnel, and his right leg was black from powder burns. One of the accompanying adults identified himself as the child's father. He was frantically pleading for medical assistance.

     Still fearing the possibility of an ambush, the crews experience and training overuled their immediate urge to order a Med-Evac. They followed protocol, rendered what limited first aid they could, quickly established a perimeter and looked for anything suspicious. Valuable minutes passed, the area seemed secure and the radio call for a Med-Evac flight was made. When the helicopter arrived minutes later the father and some crew members assisted in carrying the child to it on an Army cot used as a makeshift stretcher. When they first arrived at the pier the child was semiconscious, but his wounds were so severe it was evident by the solemn looks on the faces of PBR crew that he was not going to survive. Because he was a child, an innocent, no one was willing to say it or to mentally accept the inevitable, and they did what little they could. As the helicopter lifted off, to a man they hoped for a miracle. Unfortunately, their prayers wouldn’t be answered when a short while later word was received that the child died before reaching the evacuation hospital.

     The crews took it hard, and the normal reaction was for each to privately ask themselves for an answer to the inevitable question of, what if? However, there was no answer, everyone involved was a victim of circumstances put in place years before and beyond their control. The culmination of this incident first began with a fierce battle in the child's village by the pier on 1 February 1968 during the Tet Offensive; the MP reaction force fired thousands of bullets and launched dozens of M-79 grenades at the enemy before driving them off; two years later a young child finds an old expended 40 mm grenade round while innocently playing, and it goes off in his hand. Fortunately his father is nearby and quickly rushes him to the pier pleading for help, but it wouldn’t make a difference, it was a fatal wound; a group of soldiers are frantic to assist but trained to follow ambush protocol to protect themselves and others before a medical transport can be provided. All of the events culminated on what should have been an otherwise uneventful day, and there were no reasons for or correct answers to the what if’s they were now asking.            
     Everyone did what they were supposed to yet in a matter of minutes, one innocent life was lost, a mother and father’s heart was broken, and a dozen soldiers memories were scarred for life. Sadly, it was an unfortunate but common occurrence in this often frustrating war.
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