U.S. Navy, “River Raiders”
Service: Fall 1968 – Winter 1969
20-year-old Gery Benedetti joined the Navy and found himself assigned to a cable-laying ship doing acoustical work from Greenland to the Azores and Alaska to Midway Island for two years. In the summer of 1968, however, while the ship was docked at Mare Island in California, he caught his first glimpse of Vietnam river boats and was immediately hooked. He put in for a transfer and after three months of river training and attending S.E.R.E. school, was in South Vietnam. Benedetti spent the next year serving as a gunner on a troop carrier and a coxswain (boat driver) on an alpha boat A-112-6. Benedetti participated in Operation Giant Slingshot on the Van Co Dong River, setting night ambushes against NVA and VC insurgents headed for Saigon and the Mekong Delta, and also transported infantry soldiers and Navy Seals to and from points of incursion. As part of Nixon’s Vietnamization program, he was tasked with helping to train the South Vietnamese to take over combat operations. After the war, Benedetti got marries and went to college, where he earned a degree in physical education. After teaching for one year, he decided his temperament wasn’t right for it and decided to go into construction. Today, he enjoys mountain biking, downhill racing, white water kayaking, climbing and hiking.