This is my Story…
I graduated from Marceline high school in 1961 and farmed with my dad until being drafted May 17, 1966. I was inducted in the army at the induction station in Kansas City and got orders to go to Fort Leonard Wood, MO for basic training. While at the reception center I enlisted for 3 years in the Army to become a communication center specialist.
I completed basic training in Fort Leonard Wood with Co B, 1st BN, 2nd BCT. We were the first group staying in the new 3 story brick barracks. 1st platoon Sgt. Grenier wanted someone who had legible hand printing capabilities to print names and serial numbers on combat boots, belts and helmet sweat bands for the upcoming : IG inspection. My drafting in high school developed my printing ability and I volunteered to do the printing for our platoon after training hours. |
I was awarded the Distinguished Trainee Award for achieving a score of 90 out of 100 points and the 425 Club for achieving 436 points out of 500 in the Physical Combat Proficiency Test.
I received orders to report to Fort Gordon, GA for AIT for 11 weeks along with David Teeter from Cape Girardeau who was also from my platoon. We reported July 29, 1966, for training as a Com Center Specialist.
I needed a secret clearance to enter the classified section of this school. The military ran background checks and not everybody received a clearance. What you did growing up during high school days with speeding tickets or DUI’s counted against you. We were trained to use crypto equipment.
Upon completion of this training in November 1966, we were assigned to the 45th artillery Air Defense Headquarter Brigade in Arlington Heights, IL, part of NORAD. I had a top secret crypto clearance to work in the com center there. Orders were posted that we were assigned to Arlington Hall, VA, but that was changed after 1 day. |
I received the rank of E3 on November 30, 1966, and E4 on May 17, 1967. While in Arlington Heights I also worked part time at the Northwest Community Hospital as a custodial engineer.
On June 24, 1967, I received orders to serve in Vietnam with the 1st Signal Brigade USASTRATCOM, Nha Trang Signal Battalion. I flew from Kansas City to Oakland, California, Army base then on to Hawai, Phillipines and to Bien Hoa, Vietnam. I took a bus to Lang Bien and then flew up the coast to Nha Trang. I worked in supply the first night in country and there was a constant shaking of the ground. I was told that was from the saturation bombing with B52 bombers along the border of Vietnam and Cambodia. About half of our battalion stayed in ten man tents; the rest stayed in 2 story barracks.
My job in Vietnam was in a torn tape relay station, similar to a regional post office, where we sent and received messages from around the world. We were up for 36 hours during the 1968 TET offensive. We worked 12 hours in com center and 12 hours perimeter defense and then another 12 hours in the com center. The Korean White Horse Division kept the VC from over-running our com center. I was awarded the Certificate of achievement for my long and arduous hours to overcome an extremely heavy back log of service messages:
When North Korea seized the Navy ship USS Pueblo in 1968, we had to change all the crypto cards because the Pueblo had classified crypto equipment.
Nha Trang was a fairly secure area. We still had mortar rounds about once a week, but it wasn’t close to the com center. Nha Trang was aR & R area for the French Army. We could tour around the city and beach as long as there were two of us. I never fired my M14 rifle except during familiarization at the rifle range.
I made ES in June 1968, just before being assigned to the Phu Lam Signal Battalion. I was able to go on R & R to Sidney, Australia, my last week in Vietnam. When I got off R & R, my orders to return to the States were posted and I was assigned to 206 Signal Co at Fort Bragg, NC.
I received the following medals: National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
I was discharged in February of 1969 and returned home to farm with my Dad. I joined the VFW shortly after and have been active in that veteran’s organization every since.
John is a lifetime member of the Marceline VFW Post #1471 and is involved in their activities whenever possible. He presently is serving his tenth term (not simultaneously) as Commander and is Chaplain of VFW District 1 and has served 2 years as commander of District 1. John has been chairman of the local and district Voice of Democracy. and Patriots Pen Essay contests for over 35 years.