Skip Navigation Links

Robert Nelson

VADM Robert Nelson Back in May of 1965, I was looking forward to post-graduate studies at George Washington University, but I was suddenly faced with an unanticipated career change. After arriving home late one night, my wife shared with me the latest televised news ‒ President Johnson was detailing 17 Coast Guard patrol boats to Vietnam to conduct coastal interdiction patrols. Instead of going to graduate school, I was going to war.

Upon learning this news, I flew to the West Coast three weeks later with my cohorts for survival training. The entire crew and I then flew to Subic Bay in the Philippines where our patrol cutters arrived via cargo ships. I was commanding officer aboard CGC Point Glover.

At Subic Bay, we were met with more training as we learned the use of the cutters' newly installed armament. After a rough South China Sea passage to Vietnam, the eight cutters of Division 12 worked tirelessly to patrol the initially unfamiliar areas between the Cambodian border and the Vietnam delta. Many of us already knew each other from our Academy days and we exchanged valuable information and experiences to better help us support the mission we were on.

Tense interdictions came early and often. Our crew aboard CGC Point Glover was the first to engage and stop two gun-running boats on successive nights using gunfire and illumination capabilities. One late night, our crew received orders to proceed at best speed to the scene of a shore-side gun battle. The engagement ended shortly after the Point Glover fired a few volleys. Soon we received wounded Vietnam soldiers to transport to a village three hours away. One soldier had been killed. His wife and very young daughter came onboard and stayed on deck near him the entire trip. The horror of war for the Vietnamese civilian population became very real for us all.

During that year of deployment, family contact was maintained by letter and reel tapes. However, the return home for Vietnam veterans was not a hero's welcome. It was a return to daily routine and serving a country deeply divided about its role in Vietnam.

Hall of HeroesCGC Point Glover

The USCGC Point Glover was assigned to Division 11 of Squadron One, and on September 19, 1965, the cutter sank one Viet Cong junk and assisted the Point Marone in the capture of another.

USCGC Point Glover