In 2003 the Cedar City Public Library began gathering oral histories of veterans from Iron County. Several of those histories have been collected from Parowan residents. The Cedar City Public Library has generously shared those histories. Reasonable attempts have been made to keep the “flavor” of the interview.
Veteran History Project
Wayne and Jed Townsend (Father and Son)
Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom (respectively)
Interviewers: Adam and Steven Decker
Final Edit: May 29, 2013
Int: Could you state your full name and spell it?
Jed: Jed Townsend, J-E-D T-O-W-N-S-E-N-D
Wayne: Wayne Townsend, W-A-Y-N-E T-O-W-N-S-E-N-D
Int: Where do you currently live, like city and state?
Jed: Parowan, Utah
Wayne: Parowan, Utah
Int: Is this the same place where you lived when you were drafted or when you enlisted?
Wayne: Not me. I was, I enlisted in San Diego, California.
Int 2: You both enlisted, right?
Int: Which branch of the military did you serve in?
Jed: I was in Utah Army National Guard
Wayne: I was United States Air Force.
Int: Did you serve full time or Guard or Reserve?
Jed: National Guard
Wayne: I—I was full time Air Force.
Int: Where was your headquarters? Or is it?
Jed: Cedar City, Utah.
Wayne: My headquarters started out at Lackland Air Force base, that’s where the training, basic training post was, and then from there I went to Lowry Air Force Base where I went to my tech school.
Int 2: Where’s Lowry?
Wayne: Lowry’s in Aurora, Cali—er, Aurora…
Int 2: Colorado?
Jed: So you want my basic training, or just…
Int 2: Sure, sure.
Jed: My basic training was Fort Sill, Oklahoma for both…Fort Sill.
Int: Alright, what years did you serve?
Wayne: I served form 1996 until 1971.
Jed: I served from 1996 to 2006. January 2006. Seven. 2007.
Int: What was your highest rank?
Jed: I was a specialist.
Wayne: I was a sergeant.
Int: Alright. Um, were you decorated for your service? Get any ribbons or medals?
Jed: Yes. One medal was the Driver’s Badge. When I was deployed for Iraq, I was given the Driver Badge for making so many—I’m not sure their full requirements—but the…required mileage and so many combat missions, so driving, so I got the Driver Badge. That was what I got.
Wayne: And you got your combat
Jed: Oh, and the big one, yeah. That was, that would be the combat action badge, it’s called a C.A.B. Combat Action Badge for seeing close combat action. Danger, basically, being close to danger.
Wayne: I received a…I received five or six awards, I don’t know if I can remember them all, but I received the commanding…the Unit Citation for combat during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. My base was, I was stationed in Udorn Air Force Base in Udorn, Thailand. But we were a forward attack base. And so, I received that for support of two bomber wings and Jolly Green Rescue Helicopters. I received the Expert Marksman award, I received…
Jed: I got that *laughs* Hand grenades! Sign me up!
Wayne: I received…I received…I received a Good Conduct Medal, I received the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and there were a couple more but I can’t think of them right offhand.
Jed: Yeah, me too
Int: Alright…who decorated you? Just the Base Commander, or…
Jed: Colonel Richard Millon. He gave me both my Combat Action Badge and my Driver Badge.
Wayne: Just my commanding officer in Thailand.
Int: Alright. Did you meet any people who have become historically prominent?
Jed: I met Colonel Oliver North, I gave him a ride in my Humvee on one of our missions.
Int 2: Was he acting in a military capacity or as a correspondent, news correspondent?
Jed: He was, well, kind of like a liaison but it was for the Fox News. Correspondant, reporter, but…so he would have been retired by then.
Int: All right.
Wayne: I worked closely with Major English, who was a…one of the commanders of the 555th Bomber Wing. I also met Colonel Howder, who was the administrative commander of Udorn Air Base, Air Force Base, and I also worked fairly closely with…with, uh, Bruce Allen, who was an aircraft commander, Front Seater, and Mike Nolen was his Back Seater. Whether they became historically important, I don’t know, but I did…I did have a friend by the name of Bob Hope who flew missions in Vietnam, and whose name and citations appeared in the Vietnam Veteran Magazine, wherein he was shot by enemy ground fire. And, with his partner, their plane started to go down, and his partner came to his aid, who was his wing man in a F-4 Phantom, pushed him all the way to within about seven miles of the Thailand border, where our Jolly Greens were able to rescue them with air cover, that were shooting the North Vietnamese, who were engaged in combat fire with the two pilots that were down.
Int: That’s cool. So did you serve in combat or non-combat positions?
Jed: I was in combat.
Wayne: I was in a…actually in a non-combat role, other than the fact that I was building the bombs and rockets that went on the aircraft. I was supporting the combat troops in that position.
Int: All right. When you reflect on your Military service, what’s the most vivid memory, like frightening, or humorous, or…
Int 2: Both
Int: Both, yeah
Jed: Frightening and humorous. Well, um, probably the highlight for my military career would be being employed in Iraq. Um, the most frightening would have been engaging roadside bombs, called Improvised Explosive Devices. I engaged three of them, one blew ten meters behind my Humvee, and probably the most scary moment I had. And then, I became, I drove my Humvee within inches of some mines. That was also frightening. They would have…they wouldn’t have hurt me, I don’t think, they would have destroyed my gun turret that I was driving. On a few of my missions, I had RPGs, Rocket Propelled Grenades, shot at my Humvee, well, shot at our convoy, but missed our convoy and came within meters of hitting our gun truck, also receiving just regular gunfire as we would roll through the city of Remadi, but we were in (indistinguishable) vehicles, so it wasn’t really that scary, that part of it was, and then just your average mortar fire and rocket fire on our base. I didn’t…I mean, that happened often, so…so those would have been the most scary. The funniest, the hilarious moments, probably just hanging out with my buddies and trying to laugh through hard times, I guess. Can’t really think of too many things that were humorous *laughs* while I was over there.
Int: All right.
Wayne: Two times that stick out is my mind is when our base was attacked, and they had to launch gun ships that, well, first of all the, the security police with their dogs, their canines, alerted on the, on the platoon of, uh, part of the patrol of the Vietcong that were coming into our base. They were trying to blow up our bomber wing, that were parked on the flight line, loaded with bombs for the morning, and uh, frags that were going out for bomber missions. And they tried to come in on the south perimeter, and they were located by security police, and they launched gun ships up in the air that fired on them and killed of the…the members of the Vietcong unit. And, uh, the other time would have been when, let’s see, there the when we were attacked on the base and when we…oh, the time I had to go out and move a large lot of bombs that were bad, filled with tritonal, which is high explosive, and they were, for some reason, exploding, high order, for no apparent reason, so I was assigned to go and move them, and there were about five hundred of them, from the regular storage area where the bombs were stored, to a safe area where EOD could dispose of them. Those were the two times where, probably, I was in more danger than usual.
Jed: Your patrol, remember, you went on a patrol one time?
Wayne: Well, that was a public relations thing, like yours.
Jed: And you came through bad guys?
Wayne: Yeah, I…at times we went on different patrols, these were for volunteer, volunteering for public relations, and, uh, we encountered what we were pretty sure were Vietcongs. There was five of us, and there was about six of them, and there was no firefight or anything like that, no kind of aggressive contact, but we passed within ten feet of each other on a jungle trail, going to some of the villages to pass out information and candy as a public relations type thing. But we weren’t scared, we were just…
Jed: Well, I was never scared either, really. *Laughs* Me too!
Wayne: Well, anyway, we just did what we had to do, no matter what. I was always working with high explosive, high explosive incendiary, napalm, rockets, twenty millimeter ammo, and everything from hundred pound frag clusters to three thousand pound black blockbusters, which, and also, we had…the sparrow and the sidewinder missile that we took care of over there, and these ordinances were all loaded on aircraft for different missions in North Vietnam.
Jed: I thought and remembered two more, sorry.
Int: All right
Jed: Rewarding mission. Well, one was a danger mission. I was able to go on, two air missions where we were able to go on helicopters, and they’d go into a village and find bad guys, and we would basically storm the entire village and go inside the houses and detain any military-aged man, and bring them to a holding place where they could be interrogated, and there was a firefight, a couple firefights that I wasn’t in—I wasn’t a part of, but I was really close to them, and, um, I went on a couple of those air missions where they would take us into a…just from the helicopter and drop us into a city and then…just take over the city, basically, search them for bad guys. And then, another rewarding moment would be going out and doing these humanitarian efforts where we would go to schools and…or just churches, or any type of village and we would give them, uh…soccer balls and candy and school supplies, shoes, all kinds of, like, different toys for kids and things, so that was pretty rewarding. Some of those missions were a highlight in my military career.
Int: Alright. Um, were there any particular moments of religious or spiritual experience during your service?
Jed: You bet. Almost every day. Probably my favorite would be going to the chapel in Iraq and, um, just having the services there. Part of our tie-in is predominately LDS, and so we would have pretty big congregations, and we would meet…I remember it would be…it was just like a little shack, really, but…but it was just as powerful spiritually, just like today in church, it was the same, it felt the same. So we could be taking the sacrament and the sacrament would consist of cookies and lemonade, or whatever we had, but it would be just as spiritual as going to church at a regular building and in the States, didn’t matter, or going off into any type or bunker or…or just staying in the chapel and receiving mortar fire or rockets during the sacrament or during the actual meeting, but it was just as spiritual, so that would be probably a big highlight, and then going, we’d have home teaching, so we’d have home teaching rounds that we’d all go teach at each others bunks, we’d go…go to each other’s different buildings or bunks and share a short, spiritual message, and also we’d have a Sunday School and Priesthood meeting once a week while we were—while we were in Iraq, we’d have these. So it was set up, the Church, our Church was established pretty well, pretty strong, and we had good leadership to make that possible, so…a lot of numbers but there’s no such things as an atheist in a foxhole, so everyone finds religion over there while you’re in combat, so…it was a pretty spiritual experience for me, testimony builder for me.
Wayne: When I went over to Southeast Asia, I was a relatively new convert to the Church. Um, and I was a priest when I went over there, and I, through going to church, to our church services, we were in the top of a, on the upstairs of a chapel. And, uh, we had regular Sunday Meetings. And that’s how I got to know a lot of the commanders of the base. Colonel Howder was our Administrative Base Commander and he was also our serviceman’s group leader. And this is where I got to know these guys…Bruce Allen and Mike Nolan were from the triple nickel bomber wing, and…we had the Jolly Green commander was a member of the Church, and I…his name slips my mind, but he was a Major, and anyway, through my contacts with the Church, I was, most the time, able to meet with them on Sundays, and…have a regular sacrament meeting and a Sunday School class, and a Priesthood class, and on two or three occasions, I was able to go to a religious retreat in Bangkok with those…with those…serve with those men, those commanders. In Major English’s gunship, C-47 gunship, we flew into Bangkok with that and stayed with members of the Church and were able to attend a two-day conference, mission conference type of a deal, and so I would say I had regular church attendance, in fact, they made me the President of the Sunday School while I was over there, and so I just organized the Sunday School class and got the prayers and the songs and this, that, and the other and so on. And then, before I left to come back to the United States, when my tour of duty was over, I was ordained and Elder in Bangkok…by Bruce Allen, who was a High Priest, and he ordained me, along with the Mission President, to be and Elder, so when I got back I could go to the temple with Valerie, when I…when I got back. So, I was involved with religion quite a bit while I was over there. We’d have, like, about a two hour meeting most every Sunday, and we also had Family Home Evening with members of our group, so we got to do some pretty interesting things where those commanders of different sections pretty much had their run of the base, and they took the Airman First Class and the Sergeants with them, wherever we went, and so wherever we decided to go, on Family Home Evening Night or on religious retreats or those kind of things, so through my association through the Church, I had some pretty spiritual experiences over there.
Int: All right. How was your family life while you were serving?
Jed: My…when I left, I had an eight-month-old son, our oldest son, and Andi and I had been married roughly two to three years when I left. So, it had been…it was really hard to leave, but I’m sure it was way harder for other people who had families to leave, because my son hadn’t…didn’t really realize what was going on when I left, but I knew that he didn’t like airplanes, he didn’t like planes ‘cause that was when I left, so he still…still kind of relates airplanes with me leaving, so…But, probably one of the hardest things I ever did in my life was leave them behind, not knowing what your future had in store for you, so you don’t know if you’re coming back. You never talk about it or think about it like that, but the reality was, that was the truth, in a sense, that you never knew if you were going to see them again, so that was…that was pretty rough, but I had a solid family, Andi and our boy was taken care of, our bishop had offered numerous times, whatever they needed, they would be taken care of, so that was easy for me, because we were both from Parowan, so I knew that she’d be taken care of no matter what, so I could go, not worried, that—you know, I wouldn’t have to worry at all about their well-being while I…while I served, so…that was it for me.
Wayne: When I left, Valerie and I weren’t married. We were engaged, but we decided to postpone the marriage until after I came back. Two reasons; number one, I had to be ordained an Elder to be married in the temple, and number two, there wasn’t any guarantee that I was coming back from the war. So, we basically started our life together, although we were in constant contact all the time, she wrote letters to me, I wrote letters to her, we communicated that way, there was no calling home, or email, back in those days, you have to wait for the letter. And, but anyway, when I got back from Southeast Asia, we got married within two weeks, and then we left and I still had a full two years left in the Air Force. And so we went to Minot, North Dakota, and started our married life there, and our oldest son, Brian, was born there, in the military, and we had a great time when…when we were in North Dakota. We made lots of friends, we resolved to be active in the Church, and do what…all we could do to…to start our life out…out on the right foot, and it was good. It was a good thing for us; we enjoyed it…the time we were there. I got out in 1971 and went back to San Diego, where I was shortly…actually within six months, I was employed by the San Diego Police Department. So, we had a, we had an enjoyable time, we made a lot of good friends, we grew as newlyweds together, and…and were very, were very prosperous in my thought…both spiritually and monetarily, even though we had very little, we were happy.
Int: All right
Jed: Adam, one thing, sorry. One thing that we had that Chief was talking about, is we did have email, and we had the phone, and we would call. I would try and call once a week, depending on when my, where my missions landed, but usually it’d be about once a week, so, and I could have called her or anything…anytime, I could have called her, whenever I wanted to, but I’d usually try and call her after a mission, so maybe two, to or three times a week, I’d call her right after a mission. I’d never tell her when I was leaving on my mission, but when I’d get back, I’d tell her that I made it home, and then email, I’d try to email probably every other day or so, but…so communication was easier, a lot easier for us, but we’d also write letters and, and get packages and all those things too, but that helped our relationship grow, I think. Helped me, at least.
Int: All right, um, what were some of your experiences of joy and sorrow during your service?
Jed: Joy. One of my…I think I talked about, some of my joys have been going with my…going with my colonel to these, um, public relations missions…Um…where we would go, you know, go give out the school supplies and the toys and food for the people over there that are still living in a third-world county, so they’re suffering right now. So that was, that was a good point, and also a low point for me, because it was joyous at the time, but then it was also sad to realize that people are living in such hard, you know, such hard times. Um, one thing that made it easier for me was that I was deployed with a couple of my best friends that I grew up…one I grew up with since we were, we went to first grade together, and so that made life easier for me, to…to be able to have friends, close by and from the neighborhood, same…same morals, same beliefs, that made life easier for us, because we…we got along so well, while we were doing our jobs, and then once we were back home on base, then…then we could lay back and talk about the good old days, you know, talk about our families or…or you know, just what we used to do in high school, whatever, just hang out with our buddies. So that made life easy, um, it, I think, overall for me to serve over there was…was a highlight for my life, it was…it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, to be able to say that I’m a veteran, to say I’ve served my country, and hopefully I made a difference over there, that’s…that was basically why I wanted to go, I didn’t…I didn’t care about being a hero, didn’t expect to be, didn’t…didn’t even think about it, I just wanted to make a difference. That’s all I wanted to do, so hopefully I did that, and I feel I did. Um, so, that was…that’s a joy right there in itself, just my service over there in Iraq. A low, a low point in my life was…was experiencing the…the death of a pretty close friend, pretty close, uh, a man that we used to work with, in fact, he was a, a colonel, and he had…he was killed by a suicide bomber where, he had a, a, uh, suicide vest, a bomb strapped to his chest, and he blew this…and he blew it…close to this colonel, who we used to go on missions with, on a daily basis, almost, we’d go out on, and missions with him, and he had passed away. He received a, a ball bearing. This vest had ball bearings in them, and it, and it blew, and once it blew, one of them, just one, ‘cause he had all of his gear on, so he had his vest on, and his helmet, and everything, but just one came and right up behind there and into his brain, and it killed him, and so when that happened, that was probably one of the harder days we had in Iraq, that was rough, but one thing that I didn’t like, and I always tried to fight against was getting used to death, and it was hard, because while you were there, you kind of got, you kind of became numb to death, to, to injuries, serious injuries, and even death. You became numb to that after a while, where they would shut down the entire base, so there was no communications, you couldn’t call, you couldn’t write, because someone had passed away, and the proper authorities had to go through the, the right channels to, to inform the, the families that they’d lost their soldier, their loved one. And so after a while, we became, I became sort of numb to that, and I didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t like being so close to these catastrophic, you know, blows to families and to our unit. Not necessarily our unit, but to our, just our base in general, just losing any, any life was, it…it took it’s toll on me, and um, had a…kind of a negative effect on me…um, but, again, that was one thing that we had, that I had going for me, was I had friends that I could talk to if anything like that happened, and it did often, that we would talk about it and just drive on, you know, put it behind you and keep going, but that was probably the lowlight, just, just being affiliated with that, you know, that close with death, that bothered me. Still kind of bothers me.
Int 2: Jed, one of the—before we go on, one of the criticisms that we often hear while we’re conducting these interviews is that the Guard shouldn’t be off of American soil, that they are, at least the theory among some, is that they are here to protect our soil and shouldn’t be leaving to go to Korea, or to go to Iraq, or to wherever they’ve gone. I don’t know if they went to ‘Nam or not. Do you remember…?
Wayne: I believe there were National Guard troops.
Int 2: Were there Guard units in ‘Nam?
Jed: Did in Korea
Int 2: Did…they, yeah, definitely in Korea. You know, coming from the Guard or going, going from the Guard.
Int 2: Was there that kind of feeling there?
Jed: I think, not necessarily from our standpoint because we knew that this, that was part of the…part of the commitment, so, for me, personally, I didn’t feel that we should stay, stay home, and…in fact, I, I expected to go, and so I had already had my, my heart kind of set on getting ready to go and preparing for it, but it’s one thing though that was weird for me is all the different branches from the military, we were all Americans, so we were all good guys, in my point of view, but the different branches, they all, you know, one, they all stick with their own kind, basically, so they’re each branch, and so some of the branches kind of stuck their noses up to us because we were National Guardsman, so they figured that we weren’t, we weren’t as good as them, ‘cause they were regular army or whatever, in fact, there were some people that actually died because of that kind of attitude. When we were leaving, there were regular army, um, there was a regular army brigade that was replacing us, and our entire brigade was, was a National Guard brigade, and they chose not to listen to us, and we had been there for a year, so we knew the, knew the ropes, and they wouldn’t listen to us, and they wouldn’t do our kind of…our tactics, you know, our common tasks, and six people died right after we left, or in the transition of us leaving, six people actually died because they wouldn’t listen to National Guard soldiers, so I don’t think that National Guard soldiers actually think that we should stay [home], in fact, we wanted to get in and, and help, as far as I was concerned, but it was strange for the different branches, I think they kind of felt that way, that they, that they should, you know, stay…stay in stateside and let them do their thing, but…I was ready to go.
Int: All right, um…
Wayne: Well, I don’t know…
Jed: What are we on, joys?
Wayne: We’re on joys and sorrows, I think
Int: Joys and sorrows.
Jed: Highlights and lowlights, right.
Wayne: You know, I don’t think there…there weren’t a lot of joys. There weren’t a lot of joys over in Southeast Asia. It was hard work, we were on foreign soil…our lives were in danger, although we didn’t think so. Our attitude was that we were invincible, you know, but I know that, after having a son in a combat situation, how I worried, and Valerie worried, and his wife worried, but now I know what my parents went through when I was in Vietnam with my brother, who was in the a…in the 101 Air Force Division Combat Troop, and it wasn’t really fun at all. We worked twelve hour days in hot revetments, and, you know, of course the soldiers, the combat soldiers there were just out in the jungles, you know, fighting for their lives, all the time. That was there thing; our—my job was more in support. So, I was back behind a perimeter, where we were building bombs and…and loading aircraft to go and support those combat troops who were on the ground. And…but there was a few times when the atmosphere was a little better than others, and one of them was when we were able to attend the Bob Hope show that traveled into our area, and, through my connections with the military brass, why, I was able to set up and help out in a, kind of a service-oriented type thing, and so we got front row seats to the Bob Hope show. I was from here to your dad from the stage, and, you know, within ten to twelve feet of the stage, right there while…with Barbara McNair performing, and Bob Hope, and, and Les Brown and his Band of Renouns, and, and…Miss World and…and who was that one?
Valerie: Raquel Welch.
Wayne: Raquel Welch was right there.
Int 2: How do you forget Raquel Welch?
Wayne: Yeah, how do you forget that? Well, anyway, it was a fun show. They did really put on a fun show, and it was good to see people from, from America, you know, there, because we’re used to working with Tai’s and…we’re in a country where the only—mostly only Caucasian people are…are soldiers, you know, and so that was a light time, and that was kind of fun, watching that, but, boy, did it end quickly, you know? They were here and gone, it only lasted for about three hours while they were there entertaining, and Bob Hope was…was great! And it was a lot of fun, and…and we enjoyed that, it was kind of like a little rest from, from the war, you know? From what the things that we’re used to do—used to doing. I mean, we were up at seven o’ clock in the morning and loading up the trucks and heading for the bomb dump, which was five miles from the base, for obvious reasons. We had a perimeter to secure it and…and, we worked while…while regular army and Thai special forces protected…our perimeters. We had regular watch towers and gun towers right in and all around the bomb revetments to watch out for ground attacks, you know, and those kinds of things. So, that and coming home, it just so happens that my brother and I both arrived on the same day, within hours, the same day, and so I can imagine the relief that my mother and father felt when we got home.
Probably, some of the sad things that happened while I was over there is childhood—childhood friends were killed in the war. Boys that I grew up with, that I played with all the time, went to elementary school with, went to parties with, um, played pick-up football games with, went sledding, played baseball with, sandlot baseball, those kinds of things. Um, probably that was the saddest time that I thought of…during that conflict, during that war. And…but I was glad to serve, and I never regretted a minute that I had joined the military, in the Air Force, and I volunteered to go to Vietnam. And it’s…I’m reminded whenever there’s a Veteran’s Day assembly and I am able to stand with the veterans that fought, and were involved, because that’s getting to be a small group. If you look around you, you know, twelve, fifteen, maybe twenty of the audience can stand, and be honored, you know, for their service to our country, and I think it has made me appreciate home way, way more. A lot more, being able to be here in the United States after serving in that country over there where their freedoms are far and few between. So I, I’m glad for my service, I’m glad for my son’s service—service, and my other son Aaron, for his service in the war, and I wouldn’t want to go through that again. That’s for sure.
Int: All right, how were your feelings of support from home, from your family and country congress?
Jed: Mine was way more different than his. I received support from day one, as soon as we got our deployment. As soon as we got our orders, I received packages, letters from people I didn’t even know, throughout the country, they would send us, you know, bars of soap and toothpaste and candy and…in fact, we got sick of candy, we got sent so much candy, so life was good for us, they were…I mean, absolute support from day one for us, and, like I said, phone calls and emails, letters…life was as good as it would get over there in Iraq, away from home. Life was good, so, I mean, it felt like our country was behind us, family, of course, and friends, and… I don’t remem—I don’t remember seeing very much negative, negativity towards us in our service. In fact, one of my favorite cities n all the world now is Bangor, Maine, because we’d…that’d be our last stop before going across the seas, was Bangor, Maine, and you know, they’d fill up our…our airplane with gas, and we’d stop in that airport, and there’d be giant VFW’s, it was like VFW headquarters, there were locals all throughout that whole city who would line up like we were rock stars, and they’d all just be giving us hugs and kisses and handshakes, high-fives, pats on the back, that that coming—going out made you feel good, and coming home made you feel even better from Bangor, Maine, so…you can put Bangor, Maine on the map on his little video here, ‘cause that’s a good place to be. But yeah, support was incredible for us. And now to you, Chief!
Wayne: My support from home was very good, I thought. I had letters, two and three and four letters a week, come in from family, from Valerie’s family, from her…I’d get letters from my brother in the field, we’d write each other in the field, we’d write each other in the field, letters, and we’d get, I’d get maybe one or two of those a month, and then I’d return his letter to him, and so on. And, we kind of kept track of each other when the Stars and Stripes Newspaper, of what units were doing what and where they were, and most of the stuff was…either secret or confidential, what you were doing. All my stuff on the base that I was doing was classified, that was totally secret. We had a, we supported an Air American station, which is a CIA compound, that was 15 miles away from us in Vientaine, Laos, and they were doing covert operations all the time in Viet—in Vietnam. But I, I had good support, and I never felt like I was… you get bonded together with your troops that you work with, with the other soldiers that you live with, that you work with, that you go on missions with, et cetera, you become a family in there, in your group, and we all took care of each other, our squadron had barbeques and things like that, and…whenever we could, you know, and different things, and so, I was well taken care of, you know, I…other than being at risk at times, why, I don’t fell like…that I was neglected that way.
On my return home, I didn’t get to come home like Jed did, you know, in the 222nd with that fanfare, that was a great…that was a wonderful thing. I came home alone on an aircraft, ‘cause, you know, they just depart, they didn’t send us home, a bunch of us at once, we just came home one at a time, when our tour was up, and we were all going to different areas, so, yeah, there might have been different, oh, fifteen or twenty guys on the plane, heading in, heading, coming back, but then we would be dispersed, once we hit San Francisco, we’d just be dispersed all over the country, you know, to going home to hometowns. But, there wasn’t any fanfare; there wasn’t any…any parades or anything like that when I came home. It was kind of an odd thing that the country was kind of in a situation of…
Wayne: No, they were…
Valerie: Sick of the war
Wayne: They were radicals, you know, and everybody was anti-war, you know. Seemed like it. Not everybody, but a lot of people were anti-war, and they’d do demonstrations, this, that, and the other, and…so, to see a military veteran coming back from the war, you know, you were kind of a second-class citizen, really. I didn’t care, you know, didn’t matter to me, ‘cause I knew that I’d served my tour and I was coming home to my family. My family was waiting for me, you know, when I came in. They didn’t know when I, for sure, when I was coming, ‘cause I called them, I didn’t call them—I called them from San Francisco to say, ‘Hey, my plane’s leaving and I’ll be there in two hours,’ you know, they had no idea of the date that I was coming home. They had a general idea. But it was kind of an odd feeling, but I’ll tell you what, I was sure glad to get here. I was sure glad to get back to the United States and land on that tarmac in San Diego. It was a good feeling, to get back to where things were normal, ‘cause things were not normal over in Vietnam, and in Thailand, just wasn’t, it was…that’s war country over there. And, that’s…just kind of came home alone, unnoticed, and so did my brother, came home, just—coming in with no parades or no nothing, no recognition, no anything, so, that’s kind of my….
Int 2: Both of these wars have kind of been painted as unpopular wars.
Int 2: Did the people who were serving hold those kind of ideas, or is that a headline grabber?
Jed: Headline grabber for me.
Wayne: I think that our guys were all ready to serve, ready to fight
Jed: Yes, sir.
Wayne: Ready to fight. They didn’t care, you know, the people that were anti-war didn’t make any difference to us, you know, and as long as they didn’t bother us, we didn’t bother them. But then, with the San Diego Police Department, after I was hired, I dealt with them all the time, this anti-war, hippie generation, you know, and those kinds of things. Anti-establishment. I dealt with them heavily in the early seventies…and so…it was just kind of an atmosphere at that time, you know, that we were, unfortunately at war, and coming into. But I, I never felt slighted, you know, ‘cause I didn’t know any better, you know, I didn’t experience World War II where they came to ticker-tape parades and all that. And then, when Jed’s unit came home, why that was fantastic, you know, and everybody, everybody from a hundred and fifty miles around came to see them come home, so…it was, it was a good thing. And I would have, you know, we were behind that a hundred percent, to support those soldiers who went to fight, and no matter what the cause, you know, you don’t get to make the decision, ‘well, let’s go fight’ or, ‘well, let’s don’t go fight’, we…they stand together and they fight together, and you follow the orders and you follow of the, of the government and the President, you know, you just do that, and let the chips fall where they may, and it’s unfortunate that some don’t make it back alive, you know, that’s bad. But to go and serve and make it through and come back, I feel, is probably one of the greatest honors that you can have as a citizen of the United States.
Int: All right, what were the physical conditions that you served in, like, was it jungle, desert, sea?
Jed: I was desert, and it was hot, but it was also, it got cold, it was kind of like, kind of like Parowan, but it really extreme, like when it was hot, it was really, really hot, and then, during the, the winter times, it was plenty, plenty cold, so probably the hardest thing was the heat, the sandstorms, just like in the movies, those sandstorms really do happen, so it blows, blows the sand everywhere, and it’s miserable, and you can’t see, and it gets everywhere in every…every square inch of your body, there’s sand, but you’re always sweating, so after a mission, you’d be sopping wet, no matter what, you were sopping wet, head to toe, you were just wet. Constantly wet, from just sweating, so you had to hydrate a while, and then when it was cold, the worst thing about it being cold was it was…it was muddy, so we would get rain, and then the sand would turn into this worst, the worst kind of mud imaginable, and it would get everywhere, and it would get, like, deep. Sometimes our Humvees would get, you know, start peeling out in these, in these, this mud, this mucky mess, but it would get everywhere, so there’s no way of keeping your uniform clean, and the military’s big on keeping tidy and organized and clean, but there’s no such thing, especially in the combat zone, but when you…when it was in the winter time, it was miserable, muddy. Ugh, I’m glad I’m not in the mud anymore.
Wayne: I was in jungle, and I’ve got pictures to prove it. *Laughs* I, I was in the jungle, was jungle warfare over there, and it was hot. In the summertime, it’d be a hundred and thirty degrees in the revetments, in the bomb revetments, or the bomb dump, just hot, hot. Twelve hours a day, and then all of a sudden, you’d move into the monsoon season, and it would be wet, and you’d just get rained right out of your truck, and, I mean, there were bugs, and snakes, and…more than I’ve ever seen anywhere, all over the place, and it was just kind of like a swamp. During the monsoons, it was like a swamp. And then, when it was hot, why, it was real muggy, you know, real…a hundred percent humidity, and, just—you were wet, all the time. You were either wet because it was raining, or you were wet because you were sweating. And we wore jungle fatigues, and all the time, it was light utility, stuff that it would get wet, but it would dry out fast, and ball caps with the name of our…where we’re from. Our hats would be, you could have “California” on it, and most of the people had notches on the bill of their cap to show how many months they’ve been there, you know, clear up to twelve, when you were going home, and you’d have 432nd MMS on the back, was munitions and maintenance, was the bomb crew. And you could wear that hat, that was legal, to wear that hat, or you could wear a jungle hat, you know, a bush hat, or you could wear a military ball cap. And it…we were in hooches, we, we weren’t out in tents, you know, or living on the ground, in the Air Force, we were in, in wooden hooches with screens on them, and every day the truck would go by, you could hear it going by, it sounded like a trash truck, but it was blowing poison, to kill the mosquitoes, you know, ‘cause it’s—malaria was real over there, you could get malaria, there’s so many mosquitoes, but they…weekly, or maybe even every third, forth day, they’d run the trucks through town and put this fog that smelled really bad, which would kill the mosquitoes and…and I don’t know how many guys it killed. *Laughs*
Wayne: But it didn’t—couldn’t have been good. It could not have been good, I’ll tell you. So I kind of held my nose when that stuff was flying around, but, anyway…we, uh, had barrackses, wooden barrackses called hooches we stayed in, on the base, and there were screens on the windows and stuff, and…and on the doors that you went in and out, to keep the mosquitoes out, just a regular wood floor, you know, but we did have bunks, you know, and that kind of stuff, so, I mean, though, the guys on the ground had it a lot worse than I did, the guys that were combat troops in the army and in the marines, those guy lived in the jungle, you know, all sleeping in their…in their jungle uniforms and whatever else they could scavenger, mats to lay out, you know, right out, but it…and whatever blankets or coats you could get, if it was cold, and whatever cover you could make, to have shade, you know. Most the time, though, they, in the jungle, they could be in the shade, because it was a constant canopy.
Int: If you could give advice to any service men and women of today, what would it be?
Jed: Join the Air Force
Wayne: That’s what I was going to say, join the Air Force and the Navy!
Jed: Advice. My advice to someone joining the military would have to be: become selfless, forget yourself. If you want to join, then you’ve got to know that you are joining something that’s going to be for the better, that it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be hard on not just you, it’s going to be hard on your family and your loved ones, your friends. But, if you do join, and this should be, it shouldn’t be join just to…just to do something, ‘cause it’s going to take some time, but know that you will be known as some of the best that’s ever lived; that you’ll be known as a veteran, and that, that’s an important title to me, that I hold pretty dear. That I’m a veteran. That I served my country. Some of the most selfless people, some of the best people I’ve ever known, were because I was a part of the military and I got to become friends with them and, and know them. It’s something, there’s something to be said about a person that would be willing to give up his life for a complete stranger, but they’re wearing the flag, the same flag that you wear on your shoulder, you’re willing to give up everything for that person, just because of the flag. That, that means a lot to me. So, I would say think about it and pray about it before joining, but if you do so, do your very best, because you may not come out of it alive, but you will be remembered.
Wayne: I would say the advice I would give would be to learn how to take care of yourself. Military personnel, whatever branch of the service they’re in, when they go to war, or when they have to fight, when we have a disaster or something like that, they take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. They go—they’re protectors of the constitution, freedom, and they should know how to take care of themselves, and how to protect themselves, be in good physical condition. Don’t have any aspirations of gaining glory, because, you know, that doesn’t happen very often, you just—there’s a few that receive the Congressional Metal of Honor, and there’s a few that receive a gold…the Silver Star or the Bronze Star. But everybody out there should get the—should get the metal, because they’ve all done something…only… the difference was that somebody was noticed doing it. And that’s the difference between your regular soldier or airman or sailor, you know, they’re all doing their jobs, for, to protect freedom of their country and the freedom of others. And when I, when I went over there, I weighed a hundred and seventy-five pounds. When I came back, I weighed a hundred and forty-five. And even though we were, we…in my estimation, we were fed pretty well, you know, we could go have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t know how they squeezed it in, ‘cause all I ever managed was lunch! You know, I was too busy! I was too busy in the project, here, but I just basically survived on one meal a day over there. And sometimes we captured rice beetles in our bomb, uh, nose booster boxes, and…which were boxes, wooden boxes about yea, about, oh, twenty inches long and about twelve inches wide, we’d fill them chuck to the top with beetles, beetles about, oh, as big as a golf ball, only flattened a little bit. They’d come in and hit during the monsoons, and we’d sell them for a nickel apiece. A nickel apiece, we’d sell those things, we caught thousands of them, and we’d sell them to the Thais, as it was a, a luxury. Now I didn’t, I didn’t gain weight eating rice beetles, I’ll tell you that. I tried a few, but…it was hard work. And it was definitely—took a toll on my body, reducing me from one seventy five to one forty five, and when I came back, I was lean and mean, because I’d been in that situation, that structured situation where…you know, you were, you were involved in the nature of war. And whatever your job might be, you know, it was in the middle of the night, it was during the day, it was early in the morning, it was late in the afternoon, whenever it happened, you had to respond, and, uh, it just depends on the missions that were going out. So I would say, take advantage of, of any education they can—do, do well in their education. To learn, to be ready, be in good physical condition, be mentally sound, and be ready to take up whatever assignment that you get, because you think you’re going in to do one thing, and you end up doing all kinds of different things and some of it, you know, puts your life at risk when you’re doing it. So, uh, maintain a good attitude, maintain a good, healthy attitude about life. You’ll just as well prepare yourself spiritually, because at some time or another, you’re going to find God when things get desperate, so you may as well know Him when you get going from the get-go. Might as well be part of it, be spiritually sound, because it, some situations you get scared, you know, with what you’re involved in, and it may not be the enemy, it may be your drill sergeant that scares you! But I would just say, you know, the best advice I can give is to know how to take care of yourself, know how to work, know how to…defend yourself, know how to defend others, and don’t be afraid to do it, because you may be the platoon leader when you get out there, you n—you just don’t know what’s going to happen during that time, so be prepared.
Int 1: All right.
Int 2: Now, that’s end of tape. If you know more and want to keep going, we can put another one in.
Wayne: I think we’ve said enough.
Int 2: You’re okay? You okay, Adam, with that one? I think that’s about it.