4 Replies Latest reply on Nov 22, 2021 8:09 PM by Donald Hall

    Seeking records about troop ship sailings to Vietnam

    Donald Hall Wayfarer

      Hi.  I'm doing some research on Army medical units in the Vietnam War, and was wondering if there is a readily available source of information that would list the ships, units carried, dates of departure, dates of arrival, and ports of embarkation and debarkation for the ships that carried troops and unit equipment to Vietnam.  I'm particularly interested in some sort of website or database that may already exist, and that would include information to the separate company/detachment level.  There are many accounts in published (and archival) sources that will say that the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division sailed on the USNS XYZ, but I'm trying to locate a bunch of smaller units, some of which I have a departure date from home station, or a departure date from Oakland Army Terminal, and an arrival date in Vietnam 2.5-3 weeks later.  I'm trying to fill in blocks for an Army Medical Department Key Leader, Order of Battle, and Location document.  As I said above, I'm hoping that there's a website or other source out there with readily available information, but if I have to go into the Archives and dig, I'm wiling to do that as well--I'm just hoping there's a more centralized record than going through each ship's deck log.  Thanks.

        • Re: Seeking records about troop ship sailings to Vietnam
          Rachael Salyer Ranger

          Dear Mr. Hall,

           

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          We are unaware if the Department of Defense compiled a comprehensive list or database of troop and supply transport ships for the Vietnam era.

           

          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 5 series in the Records of Naval Operating Forces (Record Group 313) that include deck logs of vessels of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) after 1948 and then under the Military Sealift Command (MSC) through 1981. It is not a complete collection. The logbooks chronicle the daily operations of vessels both at sea and in port, although the level of content and detail may vary widely. These records have not been digitized. For more information about the logs, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

           

          We also located 25 series of the Military Sea Transportation Service and the Military Sealift Command in various record groups during the 1960s and 1970s. Depending on the records description, please contact either the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov or the  National Archives at San Francisco (RW-SB) at sanbruno.archives@nara.gov.

           

          Next, we located the series Army Buildup Progress Reports, 1965-1969 and the series Army Activities Reports for Southeast Asia, 1969-1972 in the Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia (Record Group 472) that include information about unit activation, deployment, and transportation. Plus, we located the series Medical Unit Records, ca. 1965 - ca. 1973 Transportation Unit Records, ca. 1965 - ca. 1973, and the series Supply, Service, and Support Unit Records, 7/1965-3/1973 in Record Group 472 that include organizational histories, operational reports-lessons learned, command reports, command health reports, newspaper clippings, photographs, daily journals, issuances, general orders, and operation planning records that may be relevant to your research. The series Medical Department Activity Reports, 1967-1970, the series Organizational History Files, 3/1963-2/1973, and the series Modification Tables of Organization and Equipment (MTOEs), 1968-1972 in Record Group 472 also contain information about medical units during the Vietnam War. You may be interested in the series Medical Unit Annual Reports, 1950-1969 in the Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) (Record Group 112) as well. These records have not been digitized. Please contact RDT2 for access to and information about these and similar records.

           

          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and RM-SB. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

           

          Finally, the US Army Center of Military History provides some information online about Vietnam War Campaigns and orders of battle, and they have several resources related to medical units during Vietnam available on their website including the publication Medical Support of the US Army in Vietnam, 1965-1970. We suggest that you contact them directly for further assistance.

           

          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

           

            • Re: Seeking records about troop ship sailings to Vietnam
              Donald Hall Wayfarer

              Thanks, Rachael.  You've answered my question about an "easy" source of ship manifests," but you've raised more questions.  Between 2016 and 2018 I copied about 40,000 pages of medical unit records that I'm still wading through.

               

              Can you tell me what entry numbers you're referring to in Record Group 472? I'm familiar with Entry A1 1658, and had gotten through about half of those boxes (through box 200) before work and the pandemic got the best of me.  I've also been through the MACV Surgeon's records in Entry P 1518, the records of the 27th Military History Detachment, which supported the 44th Medical Brigade, in Entry P 1659, an the medical unit reports in the files of the USARV historian in Entry A1 891.  But it sounds like you're saying there are other medical unit records buried within RG 472 I need to go hunting for.  So if you could provide Entry numbers so I can go hunting once you reopen (I've had 3 shots!), I'd appreciate it.

               

              I've also copied all the pertinent Annual Army Medical Service Activity Reports out of Entry A1 1012 in RG 112, as well as in RG 319, after they move from the Surgeon General's Office to the Center of Military History.  And some smaller Entries from various projects from the AMEDD Historical Unit, both complete and abandoned.  In fact, one of my future projects is to pull your archival records on the writing of the CMH book on Army Medicine in Vietnam.  Although the "Vietnam Studies" monographs are credited to a series of General Officers, they didn't actually write them, staff officers did.  And I know one in particular who was bitter for decades that he was denied author credit for his chapter after being promise it.  So I want to write a paper on who the "ghosts" behind the medical monograph were.

               

              The last thing I'll eventually have to tackle is the infamous "Surgeon General refiles."  Documents that were pulled while the records were at the AMED Historical Unit but never returned to their original locations, just left in a big conglomerate pile of paper that's about 400 boxes deep, if the legends amongst AMED historians is true.

               

              Thanks again!

                • Re: Seeking records about troop ship sailings to Vietnam
                  Rachael Salyer Ranger

                  Dear Mr. Hall,

                   

                  Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!

                   

                  The entry numbers for each series of records may be located in the Catalog descriptions under “HMS/MLR Entry Number.” For example, the series Medical Unit Records, ca. 1965 - ca. 1973 in Record Group 472 is entry number A1 1658, and the series Medical Department Activity Reports, 1967-1970 in RG 472 is entry A1 891. We suggest that you contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov for further assistance with these and similar records.

                   

                  You also may use the National Archives Catalog to search for additional potentially relevant records. The Advanced Search feature to search within a specific record group (e.g. Record Group 472 or Record Group 112) or to narrow your results by time period, type of record, and more.

                   

                  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

                   

                  We hope this is helpful.