How this patrolman engaged 50 enemy troops with a single M60 will make you proud

Tim Kirkpatrick
Updated onSep 25, 2023 7:15 AM PDT
2 minute read
PT Boat. Photographer Jerry Gilmartin and Don MacDonald, May 2011 . (Wikimedia Commons)

PT Boat. Photographer Jerry Gilmartin and Don MacDonald, May 2011 . (Wikimedia Commons)

SUMMARY

On Aug. 2, 1969, David Larson was serving as a gunner’s mate on a patrol boat as it steered up the Saigon River. His actions were heroic.

On Aug. 2, 1969, David Larsen was serving as a gunner's mate on a patrol boat as it steered up the Saigon River, transporting a seven-man ambush team.

The team was a part of the Army's LRRP — or Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. After cruising up river for a time, they set up an ambush position during the day near the riverbank.

As night fell, they silently settled into their discrete position. Little did they know, all hell was about to break loose.

Later that night, the spec ops team engaged four enemy troops who, unknown to them, happened to be a part of a massive force. Almost immediately after engaging, the unit began taking accurate rocket and small arms fire, which, sadly, killed half of the team outright.

One of the LRRP members called to the boat for support. This caught Larsen's attention, getting him fully engaged in the firefight.

A river patrol boat similar to Larsen's as it maneuvers through the water's narrow lanes in Vietnam. (U.S. Army Center of Military History)

The motivated gunner's mate leaped out of the patrol boat with his M60 in hand and blasted the weapon system on full auto — holding off a force of nearly 50 enemy combatants.

Standing in the direct line of fire, Larsen provided enough covering fire for the wounded to clear from the area. When asked, "what goes through your mind during something like that?" David Larsen stoically offered a hero's response:

"At the time, it just comes to you that you need to do it to get the job done."

For his brave actions, Larsen received the coveted Navy Cross.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel's video below to hear this heroic tale straight from Vietnam veteran David Larsen himself.

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