The 11 August 1966 friendly fire on the Point Welcome forced the Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy to work together in Vietnam.
"Friendly fire, isn't" is a maxim used to hide a multitude of human failings. Such incidents were—and are—the result of the growth of weapon technology and human inability or willingness to control them. All martial conflicts are evolutionary processes where coordination and cooperation evolve from the result of disaster. 1
About 0330, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Point Welcome (WPB-82329) lay to in Market Time Patrol Area 1A1, three-quarters of a mile south of the 17th parallel. 2 The officer of the day, Lieutenant (junior grade) Ross Bell, and helmsman, Gunner's Mate (GM) Second Class Mark D. McKenney, watched aircraft illuminate contacts outside the Cua Tung (the mouth of Ben Hai River). Boatswain's Mate (BM) Billy R. Russell had observed the same contacts on radar. Lieutenant Bell started both engines and moved farther south. Moving at five knots, he resumed patrolling 1A1's 13 miles of coastline.
Within minutes, the aircraft began illuminating the patrol boat. 3 Lieutenant Bell sent GM McKenney to awaken Lieutenant (junior grade) David C. Brostrom, the commanding officer, but before Lieutenant Brostrom arose, the first firing run hit the cutter. In later testimony, Lieutenant Bell said he saw no identification signals from the aircraft. Lieutenant Bell attempted to turn on the navigation lights, but the second firing run "wiped out the bridge completely," killing Lieutenant Brostrom and one other and wounding five, including Lieutenant Bell.