San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio native Raul Herrera was slim as a beanpole when he joined the United States Navy, and he quickly earned the nickname “Bean.” He served in Vietnam as a sailor patrolling the coastal waters in a Patrol Craft Fast (PCF), better known as a Swift Boat.
As the workhorses of the Navy’s Coastal Surveillance Force, Swift Boats like Herrera’s supported the friendly forces by preventing the import of enemy soldiers, ammunition, and supplies into South Vietnam. On July 15, 1967, Herrera and the other crew members of his fifty-foot boat helped intercept a 120-foot steel hull enemy trawler carrying more than 90 tons of ammunition intended for use against American forces. For their efforts that day, the crew was personally decorated with the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry by Premier Nguyen Cao Ky and Vice President Nguyen Van Thieu.
The U.S. Navy served an important role in the Vietnam War, providing its own combat force (U.S. Marines and Navy SEALs), aircraft, hospital and medical care, logistics support, and patrols of the coastlines and waterways. Large “Blue Water” Navy vessels and smaller “Brown Water” vessels like the one Herrera crewed participated.