BRAVE RIFLE Company ’70/’71
I grew up on a farm in Iowa and joined the Army shortly after graduation from high school in 1969. I received basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and Fort Sill, Okalhoma before being ordered to Vietnam in May of 1970. A 13A10 MOS got me assigned to A Battery 2/320th, 101st Airborne Division and that is where my life’s education really stared. I received a rude welcome when I reported to A Battery at Camp Eagle – I was pointed towards the helicopter pad and told to get on the next chopper going to FSB Veghel where I was immediately put to work on a gun crew. A Battery consisted of six light weight 105 mm howitzers that provided direct fire support to field units of the First Brigade, including the 1/327th Infantry. The days were an endless cycle of cleaning up spent shells casings, reloading ammo bins and countless fire missions – it wasn’t unusual to fire several hundred rounds a day.
Sometime in August our First Sergeant summoned me and with no explanation pointed to a rucksack and informed me I had been assigned to the forward observer unit with the 1/327th, I joined “B” Company that day and was loaded up with C-rations, smoke grenades, PRC 25 radio and other gear to carry. I could barely stand up. It was quite the experience walking off the Firebase into the jungle with an infantry unit for the first time. Captain Mills was the CO and my first impression was of everyone being quietly efficient and deadly serious. Thankfully, Sgt. Boles, and others were helpful and made sure I didn’t get into trouble. I regret that I can’t remember the name of the forward observer I first worked with since he was a great guy and taught the ropes of adjusting artillery fire. I shudder now remembering how we routinely called in rounds at distances from our position that would terrify me today. After six months of continuously patrolling the jungle covered mountains I was reassigned back to A Battery where I finished my tour. I met some great people in Vietnam and proud to have served with both 1/327th and 320th.
I returned to Iowa in August 1971, and went to college on the G.I. bill majoring in horticulture. I marred a wonderful girl in 1975, Shelley, who I knew in high school and faithfully wrote to me while I was in Nam. We currently live in Muscatine, Iowa, where I manage an agricultural research farm and she teaches elementary art. My summers are extremely busy growing and harvesting crops like melons, sweet corn and tomatoes. And when there is trouble at work or I’m feeling down I just have to remember Vietnam to get some perspective – life is good now. ATR!
Vince Lawson, on the left, Lt. Blakely in the center and Bill Lloyd on the right