ECHO Company ’69/’70
Enlisted February 13th, 1968 and was sent to Ft. Lewis, WA for basic training. From there went to Ft. Ord, CA for clerical school. Upon completion was assigned to Headquarters & Headquarters Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Merrell Barracks, Nuremberg, Germany. Served there as assistant company clerk for 14 months.
Was happy as a clam in Germany, enjoying the beer and Frauleins. For reasons that are known only to the Department of the Army, someone decided that the war in Nam required the presence of an 18 year old E4 clerk and in late September, 1969, I received orders for Vietnam. Following a 30 day leave I reported again to Ft. Lewis for RVN training prior to shipment to Nam. The 4 day training program was to familiarize us REMFs with the weapons and tools of war.
I arrived in Bien Hoa on October 4th, 1969 and was promptly assigned to SERTS (Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School) for another five days of training. The TAC NCO’s treated us like new recruits. More weapons familiarization, learning to patrol, guard duty, early morning runs. Overall just more fun than one could hope for (not!).
From Bien Hoa I was sent to Camp Eagle and assigned to Company E, 1/327th Infantry, as the company clerk. Felt kind of bad that the guy who was serving as company clerk was sent back to the field shortly after my arrival. His name was Andy Jordan (from Boston, I believe) and he had been a member of the Tiger Force and it was to the Tigers he returned until time for him to go home. Andy had been with the Tigers during the summer of ’69 forays into the Ashau. It was from Andy that I first learned about SSG John Gertsch. I also remember Andy telling me that there was no way in hell he would ever go back into the Ashau Valley. Fortunately Andy survived his last weeks in the bush and was able to make the flight home.
At the time of my arrival the Echo Company CO was CPT Gregory Jiede, the first shirt was 1SG Alan Ables. Jiede was only there a few weeks after my arrival. After him were several company commanders, including CPT Doug Mullins, 1LT Gregory Lampkin, and CPT Leonard Higdon. CPT Higdon was KIA on FSB Bastogne in May of 1970.
1SG Ables left the company about 3-4 months after my arrival and was replaced by 1SG Joseph Sellers. Top Sellers was probably the best NCO and first sergeant with whom I was associated with while I was in the army. Just a damn fine man and soldier whose first concern was always the troops. I was truly saddened when he departed a few weeks before my tour was over. He was replaced by a sergeant first class whose name I absolutely cannot remember. Probably because by then I was pretty damn short and didn’t much care.
During my year with the 1/327th Echo Company was comprised of two platoons, the mortar platoon and the Tiger Force Recon platoon. Don’t remember who any of the mortar platoon leaders were but the platoon sergeant for most of my tour was SFC Kyle Blevins. The recon platoon leaders were (not necessarily in order) 1LT William F. (Buck) Kernan, 1LT Jim Schildnicht, and 1LT David McWhorter. SFC Fred Case was the platoon sergeant for a good portion of my year. Also in the company was a squad who worked primarily with the Tigers doing something with radar. They were led by SGT Rick Rubright.
1LT Kernan went on to quite a distinguished military career, retiring in 2002 as a four star general. He led the 75th Rangers into Grenada when that little action took place. He again led the Rangers into Panama for Operation Just Cause. In the mid 1990’s he was in command of the 101st Airborne Division. I had a chance to chat with him at the 2000 Reunion of the 101st Airborne Division Association at Ft. Campbell. At that time he was a three star general, in command of the 18th Airborne Corps.
Departed RVN on October 4th, 1970 and returned to Ft. Lewis where I was discharged. Went on to college and got my degree and secondary teaching credential, although I have never worked as a teacher. Along the way I married, had three terrific children, and divorced. I have worked in the construction industry since I finished college and am now a project manager for a commercial building contractor in San Jose, CA.