Vietnam 1st Battalion
D Company 1969
I graduated from the U.S. Military High School in Nuremburg, Germany, Class of 1966. I was in Germany as an army brat. My Father and Stepfather were both 1st Sgt.’s. My Stepfather was stationed outside of Nuremburg.
My 18th birthday came around just before I graduated and I had to go sign up for the draft. On the way back from the Draft Office I passed the Recruiting Office and stopped to look at the pamphlets on display.
The Draft Office had told me I’d hear from them soon. I’d lived with the military around the world for many years; my father had been in WWII and I was named for an uncle who was missing in action, presumed dead in WWII. So, with no other plans, enlisting seemed like the thing to do. I went in and signed up for the “Great Adventure”: Parachute Infantry, Vietnam. “War will make a man out of you!” It might also kill or horribly maim you, but at 18 years old, you’re immortal and ignorant.
I took Basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., leaving as an E-2. I went on to Airborne Infantry training at Fort Gordon, Ga., leaving as an E-3. From there I went to Fort Benning, Ga. for Jump School where I received orders in Jan. 1967 for the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. The Army had fulfilled its part of the contract with a smile.
I arrived in Vietnam at the end of April 1967 and was assigned to 2nd PIt., C Company, 4th Bn., 503rd Parachute Infantry Regt., 173rd Abn. Bde. Within 10 days I was operating in “D” Zone and War Zone C witnessing my first action. About two weeks later, the Bde. was sent north to the Pleiku area and operated around the la Drang Valley and on the Cambodian border where I was wounded for the first time. On June 19th we were sent further north to the Tri-border area at Dak To SF camp. After fighting in the mountains near Dak To we went north again to Dak Seang SF camp and then still further north operating around Dak Pek SF camp and the Laotian border.
In Sept. we were sent to Tuy Hoa for Operation BoIling until called back to Dak To for the big hill battles of Oct./Nov. 1967 until I wounded on Hill 875. After spending 46 days in the hospital at Qui Nhon, I rejoined the unit at Tuy Hoa where we operated as infantry and, for a period, as mechanized infantry.
I ended my tour with a voluntary extension for six months. I requested and was assigned to 2nd PIt., C Company, 227th Assault Helicopter Bn., 1st Cavalry Div. as a door gunner in a Huey “Slick”. Starting in June 1968, I operated with the 1st Cavalry. Out of Camp Evans in Quang Tri Province, over the whole of 1st Corps until Nov. 1968 when the 1st Cav. Div. was transferred down to III Corps at Phouc Vinh. I thought it would be fun flying compared to Infantry; it scared the hell out of me more than ground combat. At least on the ground you can get your head down “PDQ”. At the end of my 2nd tour I extended again for another six months.
I was granted my request (with a smile again) and in Feb., 1969 I arrived back in Vietnam and joined up with 2nd PIt., D Company, 1st Bn., 327th Parachute Regt, 101st Abn Div. Upon arriving I learned that the Div. was changing over to an Air Cavalry unit. Having been with an Air Cav. Unit before and appreciating its effectiveness, I felt I still received what I wanted.
I operated with the 101st along the bridges and inland to the south of Phu Bai/Camp Eagle for a month or so and then we were moved to the area of Phu Loc.
Here our mission was to safe guard the civilians, the rice harvest and the strategic Hai Van Pass north of Da Nang. We operated in the Phu Loc Valley and the mountains around it. We mostly ambushed NVA troops trying to come into the valley and collect the food tax and intelligence from the population and try eliminate the Allied presence including the FSBs of Roy and Tomahawk guarding the Pass and Highway 1.
About the middle of June 1969, my tour in Vietnam and time in the Army ended and I left my unit as it was sent into the A Shau Valley.
After the Army I tried college but was harassed by the anti-war faction until I dropped out and worked small jobs for a few years. After awhile I became a Production/Manufacturing Supervisor and returned to college for a business degree through V A VocRehab. I am currently on 100% V A disability, but am trying to return to work someday. Meanwhile I am one of a handful of Slate stone carvers, though as a hobbyist, and hope to make a living at it in the near future through an apprenticeship program under a V A VocRehab.
Vietnam is a time in my life that I can never forget. The camaraderie of fellow combat soldiers is an experience that only those who have lived it and can appreciate. It appears to have been a singular fellowship through out history. I’ll always feel uniquely united with those I served with, known or unknown.
Antoine E. Roy