The War: A Pad That Floats

When the U.S. Navy launched its Mobile Riverine Force in South Viet Nam's canal-laced Mekong Delta, it soon became obvious that servicing the mini-flotilla was a maxi-headache. Riverine's little boats would slip into the maze of marshlands for long patrols, far from the medical and military aid of the mother ship anchored in one of the larger rivers. The most obvious means of supply was by helicopter, but most of the Delta is too wet and soft to support the weight of a chopper.

The solution, worked out by a civilian in the...