Vietnam 1st Battalion
Galen G. Mitchell
A Company 1965 – 1966
My Army career began in August of 1961 and upon completion of jump school in February of 1962 was assigned to Co. B, 1st Abn. Battle Group, 506th Inf. at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I’ve always had a special fondness in my heart for the Bravo Bulls of the 506th as it gave me the foundation for a successful military career that eventually followed. We become the product of our learned experiences and those early lessons carried me far.
I am sure that many of you have heard the old adage that in the Army, your best assignment is always your last. There’s much truth to this perhaps because of the unknown of a future assignment and in human nature we tend to focus on the now, however the present doesn’t last long and the past lasts forever. In reflecting on such assignments as Drill Instructor, Jungle Warfare School, 1st Sergeant, a second tour in Viet Nam with the 173rd, I can truly say the best unit I ever served with was Co. A (Abu), 1/327 Abn. Inf., 1st Bde. 101st Abn Div. I deployed with them to Viet Nam on the USNS General Leroy Eltinge in July of 1965. Initially went over as a M79 Gunner of the 3rd platoon and in December was promoted to Sergeant, upon promotion was given the Weapons Squad. Despite a high turnover rate and too many hardships to mention this unit was “Above The Rest” and the best unit of my career. Our darkest day was 4 March 65 and the battle of My Phu, which saw 13 K.I.A. and over 50 W.I.A. I made it to 7 April before being wounded with a gunshot wound to the head.
My career saw your typical Army Commendation medals, Good Conduct awards, Master Parachutists Badge etc. however the awards I’m most proud of came from my time with Abu Company which are the C.I.B., Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal with V device and prior to ending my career the combat patch of the Screaming Eagle worn on the right shoulder sleeve.
I was aimlessly soaring around in my youth as most of us do; unsure of the correct path to take and in fact was discharged twice before deciding on a military career. In retrospect there were two profound influences in my life. The Army who took a 17-year-old street-smart kid that quit school in the 8th grade, allowed him to obtain a G.E.D along with some college, and gave him the opportunity to have an impact on so many men throughout my career through leadership positions and assignments. The other was a wonderful woman named Irene whom I married in June 1966 and who gave me three wonderful children. She has always been there providing the strength needed to overcome life’s daily challenges and is truly “Above The Rest”. I look forward to hearing from old friends and fellow soldiers.