VIRGINA BEACH, Va.— More than 200 Riverine sailors celebrated the Navy Riverine Force fifth birthday with a 5k run and birthday celebration on board Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., May 25.
Riverine heritage dates back to the days of the Vietnam War. U.S. Army and U.S. Navy service members combined to make the Riverine Assault Force. During the war the Riverine Assault Force patrolled the Mekong Delta transporting infantry and artillery while Navy members provided gunfire support against land sweeps from armed river craft.
“The Riverine Forces legacy starts with its roots in Vietnam,” said Command Master Chief Jeff Covington, RIVGRU 1. “Today’s Riverine Force has five years of experience and we have some of the toughest, smartest warriors to carry on with that legacy.”
Since it’s re-establishment in 2006, Riverine Squadrons (RIVRON) have completed seven deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. The squadrons have completed more than 600 combat missions, more than 430 Riverine combat patrols, more than 366 boat missions, and more than 196 convoys.
Riverines also conducted several exercises around the globe with other nation security forces from Africa, Europe, the South Pacific and South America. They have performed cross-training missions to provide a unique capability that allows the U.S. and its allies the ability to conduct maritime security on rivers and inland waterways.
The Riverines were reactivated to provide river patrol, interdiction and tactical troop movement on inland waterways, with that comes the responsibility to provide an offensive combat component to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and Navy brown water operating areas.
“The Riverine force has brought back real-combat arms focus,” said Capt. Christopher Halton, commander of RIVGRU 1. “The Riverines are the only true combat arms force that has a mission of seek out and destroy the enemy. The Riverine force has proven NECC’s capability in that area.”
Throughout the deployments RIVRON sailors trained Iraqi army, Iraqi Police Service-River Patrol and the Iraqi coastal border guard enabling the Iraqis to take over the mission and continue to keep the waterways safe from insurgents.
“The reason we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the modern day Riverine force is to connect the Sailors with not only each other but also with their heritage beyond the five years that we’ve been stood up,” said Cmdr. Peter Berning, RIVGRU 1 chief of staff. “By getting together and celebrating five years, we’re actually tying ourselves to Vietnam, Civil War and Seminole War Sailors who’ve come before us to link that heritage to the modern-day Riverine force.”
After the 5k run they were treated to a birthday cake, cut by the youngest, Electrician’s Mate Fireman Christopher Broome, and oldest, Gerald Russo, chief boatswain’s mate, Riverine sailors present, and time to spend with fellow Riverines.