“If You Need Help, We’re Here”: Service With River Assault Flotilla One In Vietnam

Tom Brennan


Tom Brennan grew up in Suffolk County on Long Island with his parents. One of his earliest memories is of his father returning home from WWII. After demobilizing, his father worked as a construction superintendent building docks and other things, and Tom frequently helped. As a boy, Tom was very active in sports, enjoying baseball and basketball. He continued his basketball career as a college freshman at William & Mary. Looking for answers, he chose to major in Philosophy. After graduating, he decided to enlist in the Navy for an Officer Candidate slot, and commissioned in 1965. His first assignment was aboard USS Observation Island (EAG-154), supporting the NASA Gemini Program and test-firing the Polaris Missile. In 1966, he was scheduled to deploy to Vietnam as part of the Riverine Force, and trained at Coronado. He flew into Tan Son Nhut in January 1967, and was eventually stationed around Vung Tau and Dong Tam in the Mekong Delta region. While assigned to the Flotilla, he served in the Combat Information Center, call sign “Kris Kringle 33.” He left Vietnam in early 1968, and shortly thereafter left the military. He returned to Suffolk County, working with the Department of Social Services and officiating high school basketball. Currently, he lives in the town of Warwick, New York, where he serves as the First Vice Commander of the Warwick American Legion Post 214, the President of the Milford Historical Society, and a board member of the Town of Warwick Historical Society. He remains active in his local church while also writing an account of his Vietnam War experiences. He reflects on his wartime service, noting that “it shaped my life.”


conflicts Vietnam War Cold War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques Navy
interviewer David Siry
date 25 March 2021


name Tom Brennan
institution William & Mary
graduation year 1964
service Navy
unit River Assault Flotilla One
service dates 1964