Radioman Second Class Terry Freund served on a Patrol Boat River (PBR) in Vietnam. The mission of the PBR was to patrol Vietnam’s inshore waterways, inspect suspicious craft, and enforce curfews. Just 31 feet in length, the PBR could achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots, but these fiberglass-hulled boats offered little protection to their four-man crews. Armed with machine guns, B-40 rockets, and recoilless rifles, Viet Cong boat-hunting teams regularly attacked PBRs on the narrower rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta. In ambushes, survival for a PBR often depended more on the skill of the crew than the technology fielded. Such was the case on 26 October 1966.
On that afternoon, Freund, a native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was manning the forward .50 caliber guns of PBR-40 on the Bassac River in Ba Xuyen Province, South Vietnam, when a crewman on the boat observed a 20-foot-long sampan coming out of a canal with three men aboard. When hailed, the sampan refused to come alongside, and PBRs 40 and 34 gave chase. After a couple of warning shots were fired, the PBRs opened up on the sampan as it beached, setting the craft on fire. The three men leapt from the sampan and dove into some underbrush as other Viet Cong in foxholes along the beach returned fire.
Without further orders, Freund began to rake the enemy positions with fire, temporarily silencing enemy opposition on shore. During the ensuing fight, Freund was hit by a machine gun round. Weak and in excruciating pain, Freund proceeded to fire on the position until he slumped over his guns. Faint from loss of blood and shock, Freund roused himself, went to get more ammunition, and reloaded his guns. He continued to fire over half the bullets in his tray until he succumbed to his wound. For his heroism, the Navy awarded Freund the Navy Cross. According to his shipmate, Engineman Third Class Steve Watson, “Freund was a squared away sailor whose clothes were always clean, and who was always happy, and proud to be a sailor.” He was one of 40 PBR Sailors killed during the 1966-68 period.