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Roger Nordstrom | profile | all galleries >> Service to My Country >> Vietnam 1970-1971: A Grunt Remembers tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Vietnam 1970-1971: A Grunt Remembers

I have decided to embark on a journey to tell a story. This story consists of snippets of my memory and began in February 1970 when I got a letter from the U.S. government that began with the words 'Greetings'. Every man, or should I say boy, at that time knew what that meant, you were just being drafted.

It started on March 2, 1970 in the government offices in Los Angeles, California where I was assigned to the U.S. Army. We boarded buses for the trip up the coast to Fort Ord. After 8 weeks of basic training it was off to Fort Knox, KY for armor training. My U.S. Army job would be that of a tank crewmember. After the 8 weeks of training at Fort Know we all eagerly anticipated our assignment to a permanent unit. Some guys would go to Germany and some to Vietnam. My assignment was to Vietnam. After a short 2 week leave I was off to Vietnam on July 26, 1970.

Once in Vietnam I was assigned to Charlie Company 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade as a grunt and shipped up to Chu Lai. After a few weeks of in country training I was sent out to the field for the first time on August 10, 1970. I spend 6 months with Charlie company and went from a rifleman in a platoon to the Battalion RTO for the company commander. I was in the right place at the right time and after the 6 months got to go back to the rear and work for a chaplain. Most of the guys spent their entire year tour in the field so I was counting my blessings.

I don't recall the exact amount of time that I spent as a Chaplains assistant but my time there ended when trained chaplains assistants were sent over from 'the world'. At that time I was transfered to the battalion supply room and worked as a supply clerk. Then on July 12, 1971 I received order to report to E Troop, 1st/1st Cav, a combat armor unit.

Since my training was armor and since the U.S. was not sending more troops to Vietnam and since they needed replacements out in the field I was picked to be one of those replacements. I was then assigned to a Sheridan tank as the loader and headed back out to the field. I was not with E troop for on August 8, 1971 I was seriously wounded by an exploding RPG, rocket propelled grenade.

I don't know where this story will take me, and anyone wishing to follow. I took lots of pictures while in Vietnam and as the pictures trigger memories I will record them. I'll try to be somewhat organized but it is likely the pictures will not be chronological. My memory if very poor and sometime I question the accuracy but they are what I have left of that experience and I will share them with you. It will take time to do this project and if you're interested check back from time to time.

This started out to be a story about Vietnam and my memories of that experience. But after starting the project I decided to go back to the beginning and start with my induction into the Army. 24 Mar 2006)