Larry Albrightson

Mr. Albrightson served in the Vietnam War.

He served in the U.S. Army. He enlisted on June 7, 1966, and was discharged on June 12, 1969. He was assigned to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri; Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; 1st 48th Infantry, Germany; and 25th Infantry in Plecuki, Vietnam.

Mr. Albrightson's highest rank was Sergeant.

He was decorated with the Purple Heart, the Vietnamese Combat Medal, the Vietnamese Service Medal.

Source: Interview with veteran on February 28, 2004, Library of Congress Veterans History Project (see summary, below)

Summary of Veteran Interview

Interviewer: What branch of the service were you in, and what was your main job?

Interviewee: I was in the Army and originally was an artilleryman, then I was transferred to an infantryman and back to artillery again.

Interviewer: And early before dinner we talked about your, you machine gunner?

Interviewee: I was a gunner on a service battery operation in Vietnam. We were service battery for: we provided ammunition to JJ Carol, GioLin, the Carson Area and the Rock Pile Area. My job by that time was to ride shotgun in these trucks, ammunition trucks, and to follow them through.

Interviewer: How old were you when you entered the service?

Interviewee: I had just turned 18.

Interviewer: What was your highest rank?

Interviewee: E-5, Sergeant E-5

Interviewer: Your date of enlistment?

Interviewee: June 2, 1966

Interviewer: Were you married at all before you left?

Interviewee: No

Interviewer: Like you said before, you volunteered (to join the Army)?

Interviewee: Yes, I was an RA, Regular Army back in those days, if you were drafted it was a U.S. and if you volunteered it was an RA, so I was an RA, a volunteer for the Army. I volunteered for Vietnam also.

Interviewer: Well, I guess we will just start out with before the war, then we will talk about emotions and family, how they felt about you going over to Vietnam and then how you actually felt.

Interviewee: Ok, back in them days, back in 1966, after I got out of high school, my dad was never in the military, he was too old to go to World War II. I was “gun-hoe,” I wanted to do something and I was all for it, then my buddies were all for it. We had a lot of people join the Army out of my class. Two died, two got killed out of a small class; it was a patriotic feeling (to join the Army) back then. Then it got into the area if you had enough money to go to college you got out of the draft, but I joined anyway, I just wanted to join.

Interviewer: What did your family think of what you were doing?

Interviewee: I think they were a little disappointed in me probably, I had three sisters, I was the only boy and was suppose to take the farm over, I hated farming. I would rather go in the Army than farm so I think it was a little disappointing but they were proud too.

Interviewer: What did they think about you when you volunteered for Vietnam?

Interviewee: That was kind of a “bugger,” I was in Germany at the time, I didn’t like Germany. I had been busted over there and had been in the service about a year and was busted down to an E-1 so I came back and I was just ready for a change. Vietnam was good for me.

Interviewer: After you volunteered for Vietnam, you flew over there, what was your attitude going over there, what did you think it was going to be, and what did your comrades think it was going to be, what were there emotions and attitudes? So, start with yourself and move on to other people.

Interviewee: Ok, I thought it would be, you never know. Nobody knows what combat’s going to be like or what it is going to be. I went over there; you wake up in a hurry. I was in Kan Hong Bay and I thought wow, this is nice, I would love to stay here for the whole tour because there was nothing going on, nice sand and stuff. All of a sudden I got my orders to go to Playskoo to the 25th Infantry Division. Before I could get there, when the war was getting a little heavier, I got transferred to the DMZ with the 3rd Marine Division. I didn’t think that was possible because I was Army, but I got stationed with the 3rd Marine Division. That was pretty exciting for quite awhile.

Interviewer: How many Army guys got put with the Marines?

Interviewee: At first there was only about 14 of us at Dong Ha with the 3rd Marine Division. After a while we had our whole 2nd 94th Artillery Division, Service Battery that got stationed with the 3rd Marines. All we did was go on patrols with the Marines and then supply and support the convoys, the different firebases.

Interviewer: Before you actually got into any combat, were you excited, scared?

Interviewee: I was scared, I didn’t want to do it, no shit, and I didn’t want to do it.

Interviewer: How about the other guys with you? Same emotions?

Interviewee: That was one big thing we always had, the single guys always stuck together. The married people, we kind of left alone because they were really scared, they wanted to go back to their family. I had a girlfriend back home and stuff, but there was no (commitment), the adventure was still there a little bit. But after the first fire fight, that kind of crawls up your ass too. You forgot that John Wayne stuff you know, you realize you can die.

Interviewer: What’s the first battle that you actually remember?

Interviewee: Well, I was going from Dong Ha to JJ Caroll. We had five loads of ammunition, I was riding gunshot, there was six of us. We had the trucks and we started getting shelled from the mountains on the DMZ. They could see us and were shelling us down. They could see the rockets coming in on the trucks; they were walking the rockets in. We were along the road and couldn’t do a whole lot. All of a sudden they blew two trucks up so we jumped out. When we jumped out. And there (were bodies because there) had been a battle about a week before. I still remember that, the smell of the bodies, it was a good slimy one; he was bloated up pretty good, a “gook.” That smell sticks with me today. I even go to funeral homes and can look at the body, I know it is perfectly clean, ok, but that odor, I think I smell that odor. It’s no big thing; it’s tough shit that sticks with ya.

Interviewer: If you want to go ahead and talk about pretty much whatever you want, the experiences that you went through during any of the battles. You can talk about the Tet Offensive I know we talked about that you were in. Any other major battles that you believe would be necessary for this interview.

Interviewee: Well, I think for the most part, the guys that have been in some combat, you know I wasn’t in a lot of combat, I was like anybody else. You kind of forget about a lot of it because you make the best of it; it’s done, you don’t cry about it, it’s over. What I have a bad feeling about is when I came back for Vietnam, when I landed in San Francisco. I had to go to the bathroom to get rid of my clothes and buy new clothes to get in an airplane and get back to Wisconsin because there were protesters out there, there
Were so many protesters and stuff. That hurt a little bit. I thought we had done a good job and I thought it went pretty good. I guess of all the combat and stuff, that san Francisco thing probably pisses me off more than anything else. Otherwise, combat’s combat, you can linger on it and want to cry about it, you can make stories up all day and talk about it, but that’s done. It’s the things we have to learn about war, like coming back from war to treat the soldiers and everyone better, respect them, don’t piss on them. That’s why San Francisco today just pisses me off to think about san Francisco, just landing there and trying to get back, you know. Nothing but queers and flower children as far as I’m concerned; it always will be that way, you can’t change it.

Interviewer: How do you feel today? What are your perceptions of Vietnam and looking back on the Vietnam War now, do you feel your attitudes have changed at all?

Interviewee: No, not at all, not a bit, it was a bad war, we probably even screwed up a little bit but we can’t have a great nation like this. We shot the thing, all of it, finish it off and we tried to do our best. That’s why, you know, Bush, if you don’t like Bush, fine but follow him, he’s the leader right now, you got to do what you got to do.

Interviewer: What do you believe that you have gained from your experience in the Vietnam War?

Interviewee; I drink a lot, no, it’s ah, I think that one thing I do, if it wouldn’t be for you Danny on this interview, I would never do it. There are certain things you do in life that you’re kind of proud of, if you don’t say nothing about it, it kind of stays with you, but if you blab about it, you’re not so proud of it anymore. It’s just something kind of private. I’m proud of what I did, I have no qualms about anything and I would do it again. I feel bad about some of the guys that had a loss, but you know, shit happens.

Interviewer: Earlier we talked about the shrapnel wounds a little bit.

Interviewee: I got some in my head and I got some in my back. It makes a good laugh when I go through the airport. I let them assholes try to figure out where it is. I don’t tell them nothing.

Interviewer: Alright, is there anything else you want to include?

Interviewee: Nope, that’s good. Thank you very much Larry.

Interviewee: You Betcha.

Metals received: Purple Heart, Vietnamese Combat Medal & Vietnamese Service Medal

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