In 1968 Gen. William C. Westmoreland (CG, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam), requested the 82nd Airborne to repel the massive assault of the Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. President Johnson gave him only the 3rd Brigade – the cream of “America’s Guard of Honor”. The “Golden Brigade” was officially alerted for deployment on Monday, 12 February, 1968, at 1730 hours.
Dear Fellow Trooper,
Almost four decades ago, a bunch of us troopers served together in Vietnam as part of what has become known throughout the 82nd Airborne Division as The Golden Brigade. We got that name for the manner in which the troopers of the brigade performed their many tasks, from their jump into Vieques Island and their outstanding accomplishments in Detroit in 1967 to the flawless deployment and their heroic combat activity in 1968 and 1969. As the years have gone by, our famous unit has fought in Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq — in a manner that makes us all proud to say that we were once on that team.
Over the years, a small group of RVN (Republic of Vietnam) troopers have worked hard not only to keep the memory of The Golden Brigade alive but also to make sure our unit continues to participate in the many good things that are being done by the 82nd Airborne Division Association for those who need help. When we assemble a few times each year, our eyes fill with tears of pride as we salute those comrades who paid the full price in Vietnam, and as we shake hands with the young troopers who today proudly wear their newly won CIBs, CMBs, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts and other decorations earned on the field of battle.
There is no substitute for the bond that is created among airborne troopers who have experienced the hardships of warfare. The bond cannot be seem be anyone else, but it is there. For that reason, I am contacting you today to invite you to come join us in maintaining that bond. It will not be long before you will be the senior airborne troopers, and the old timers like me, whose first war was in the 1940s, will be looking for men of The Golden Brigade to take the baton of leadership. We now have a member of our group on the association’s board of directors, and we have others in responsible positions in a number of group activities within the association.
What we need from you is your interest and support. As Rich O’Hare told me the other day, we need you to “hook up” with The Golden Brigade Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association. The cost of the annual membership is only $20 and a life membership is only $100. This membership will be one of your most cherished possessions. The Paraglide, our Golden Brigade Chapter newsletter, and our Website will always be welcome, with its news about events beings planned and the accomplishments of your division. But, that’s not the most important thing. Your decision to maintain contact with the outfit with whom you fought in Vietnam will help us maintain that bond which we band of brothers wove more than four decades ago.
Stand up, and hook up.
Airborne, All the Way!!
Alexander R. Bolling, Jr.
Major General, USA (Ret)
CG of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam
Hendrix’s Army records indicate he was discharged for “homosexual tendencies,” not a broken ankle as he had claimed publicly.
Jimi Hendrix might have stayed in the Army. He might have been sent to Vietnam. Instead, he pretended he was gay. And with that, he was discharged from the 101st Airborne in 1962, launching a musical career that would redefine the guitar, leave other rock heroes of the day speechless and culminate with his headlining performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969.
Hendrix’s subterfuge, contained in his military medical records, is revealed for the first time in Charles R. Cross’ new biography, “Room Full of Mirrors.” Publicly, Hendrix always claimed he was discharged after breaking his ankle on a parachute jump, but his medical records do not mention such an injury.
In regular visits to the base psychiatrist at Fort Campbell, Ky., in spring 1962, (more…)
Emmy-award winning 1987 documentary film featuring real-life letters written by American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines during the Vietnam War to their families and friends back home. Film footage and news coverage augment the first-person “narrative” by men and women who were there. Based on the book of the same name. (more…)
3rd BCT 82nd Airborne Division Regimental Ball held on March 27, 2013
On Wednesday March 27 the Convention Center in Raleigh, North Carolina was the site of the 3rd BCT’s first Regimental Ball held in four or five years. Approximately 1200 Officers, NCOs, honored veterans and the wonderful ladies that put up with all of us were in attendance. The Marriott Hotel just across the street from the Convention Center provided rooms at a good rate for all the out of towners and those who did not wish to return to Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg at the end of the evening.
Happy hour in the lobby preceded dinner. Gracing the lobby was a beautiful ice sculpture of the Division crest with a Panther above it.
Before dinner there were toasts and remarks by Col. Fenzel as well as the always touching explanation of the significance of the items on the Fallen Comrade Table. After dinner we were entertained by an all too brief performance by the All American Chorus. Following the Chorus was a Highland Pipe and Drum Corps whose lads and lassies created a “bonny grand racket”
Guest speaker was LTG Jack Nix (ret), a thirty year plus professional soldier, serving in Airborne and non- airborne units as well as many staff and administrative jobs within the Army. After retirement, LTG Nix had a second career was with the large and varied J.E. Dunn Construction Company.
Five troopers were introduced and inducted into the Order of the Distinguished Panther for their contribution to the regiment. Congratulations to them.
A “grog Ceremony” was held in which a bottle of liquor from each area that the 505th has campaigned in are mixed in a large bowl. Sicilian and Italian wines started the flow, with French hard cider, Dutch beer, rum from Panama and Vietnamese rice wine to complete the potent mix. For service in non- drinking areas a can of Rip-Its energy drink and a pot of thirty six hour old coffee was added. It tasted far better than it sounds and had a serious kick to it. Four or five cups of it would tend to make one a little tipsy.
Rather than amaze “the youngun’s” with our graceful and almost poetic dance floor moves, most of us retired to our hospitality room to catch up with each other and socialize with the guests that dropped in including LTC James Hayes , Brigade XO.
The people of Raleigh were warm and friendly. The weather was cold and windy—high 20’s to low 30’s at night and mid 50’s by day. There were plenty of touristy things to do within walking distance of the hotel such as shopping, the State Capitol Building numerous museums, etc. We ate at an English pub called the Oxford and if you really like Barbeque and/or ribs try The Pit, but go early as it is very popular.
Besides the Golden Brigade, the 505th Panther Association and 555th Parachute Association were also in attendance.
Here is a link to a news article about several events recently held at Fort Bragg, NC to honor the 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division, including the laying of a wreath at the Golden Brigade Memorial and the dedication of a new dining facility named after MG Alexander R. Bolling, Jr.
The following individuals were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam while serving with the 3rd brigade 82nd Airborne Division:
A number of awards were earned by the various units of the Golden Brigade during its service in Vietnam. Because of the time it took to process and approve these awards, many of the veterans who were entitled to these awards never knew about them and often their military records do not reflect their entitlement.
Following is a listing, including citations, for all unit awards earned by the 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam. Anyone assigned to and present for duty with any of the particular units during any portion of the cited period is permanently entitled to that unit award.
1. 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division – Republic Of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation for the period 6 October 1968 through 11 November 1969. The award, including the citation, was announced in Section III (Page 4) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 43 dated 12 August 1970. Following is a link to the orders:
2. 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division – Republic Of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class Unit Citation for the period 12 March 1968 through 4 October 1968. This award was made to the 101st Airborne Division to which the 3rd Brigade was attached at the time and the award, including the citation, was announced in Section IV (Pages 10-11) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 48 dated 14 October 1971.
3. 1st Battalion 505th Infantry – Republic Of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class Unit Citation for the period 3 March 1969 through 30 April 1969. This award was made to the 25th Infantry Division to which the 1/505th Infantry was attached at the time and the award, including the citation, was announced in Section III (Pages 13-14) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 51 dated 10 November 1971.
4. 1st Battalion 508th Infantry – Valorous Unit Award for the period 1 May 1968 through 8 January 1969 as announced in General Orders No. 880, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 16 April 1970, and confirmed in Section I (Page 3) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 43 dated 12 August 1970. (This award was submitted as a Presidential Unit Citation but ultimately downgraded to a Valorous Unit Award before being approved.)
5. Battery A 2nd Battalion 321st Artillery – Valorous Unit Award for the period 12 November 1968 through 10 December 1968 while attached to the 1st Battalion 508th Infantry as announced in General Orders No. 880, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 16 April 1970, and confirmed in Section I (Page 3) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 43 dated 12 August 1970.
6. Battery B 2nd Battalion 321st Artillery – Valorous Unit Award for the period 23 August 1968 through 1 November 1968 while attached to the 1st Battalion 508th Infantry as announced in Section V (Page 14) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 48 dated 14 October 1971. (Note: Battery B was referred to as Battery D in the recommendation and subsequent documents, including the initial citation. This was later corrected by an amended citation.)
7. Battery C 2nd Battalion 321st Artillery – Valorous Unit Award for the period 26 October 1968 through 1 November 1968 while attached to the 1st Battalion 508th Infantry as announced in General Orders No. 880, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 16 April 1970, and confirmed in Section I (Page 3) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 43 dated 12 August 1970.
8. Company C 307th Engineer Battalion – Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 16 September 1968 through 31 July 1969 as announced in General Orders No. 762, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 28 March 1970, and confirmed in Section II(62) of Department Of The Army General Orders. No. 39 dated 20 July 1970.
9. Company A 82nd Support Battalion – Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 25 May 1968 through 28 February 1969 as announced in General Orders No. 4454, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 22 December 1969, and confirmed in Section II(41) of Department Of The Army General Orders. No. 39 dated 20 July 1970.
10. Company A 82nd Support Battalion– Meritorious Unit Commendation (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for the period 1 March 1969 through 15 November 1969 as announced in General Orders No. 845, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 8 April 1970, and confirmed in Section II(40) of Department Of The Army General Orders. No. 39 dated 20 July 1970.
11. 82nd Support Battalion (Less Company A) – Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 16 September 1968 through 15 November 1969 as announced in General Orders No. 845, Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, dated 8 April 1970, and confirmed in Section II(40) of Department Of The Army General Orders. No. 39 dated 20 July 1970.
12. Also, bear in mind that any 3rd Brigade Vietnam veteran who may not have been assigned and present with one of the cited units during the cited periods is nevertheless entitled to the Republic Of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation which was awarded to the United States Army, Vietnam and all subordinate units for the period 20 July 1965 through 28 March 1973 as announced in Section I(3) of Department Of The Army General Orders No. 8 dated 19 March 1974.
2. 1st Battalion 508th Infantry – Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 21 December 1968 through 1 November 1969. However, the award was not approved on the basis that it is intended primarily for combat support units and not combat units.
Documents pertaining to the submission and disapproval of this award, including the proposed citation for the award, are found here:
3. 2d Battalion 321st Artillery – Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 1 January 1969 through 14 November 1969. However, the award was not approved on the basis that it is intended primarily for combat support units and not combat units.
Documents pertaining to the submission and disapproval of this award, including the proposed citation for the award, are found here:
4. According to the 82nd’s second unit history from Vietnam, as the Brigade was standing down in 1969, a recommendation for the Presidential Unit Citation for the entire brigade was submitted. Apparently, it was not approved, although I don’t have any specific documents to verify this.
There may be other recommendations I am not aware of that were disapproved for varying reasons.
Veterans, particularly those who served tours with other units, may also want to consult DA Pamphlet 672-3, the Army’s official Unit Citation And Campaign Participation Register, at the following link:
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
WASHINGTON, DC, 12 August 1970
VIETNAMESE CROSS OF GALLANTRY WITH PALM
The award of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm by the Republic of Vietnam to units of the United States Army listed below is confirmed.
The Cross of Gallantry with Palm has been awarded by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam for outstanding service during the period 6 October 1968 to 11 November 1969 to:
3D BRIGADE, 82D AIRBORNE DIVISION and its assigned and attached units:
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division
1st Battalion, 505th Infantry, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division
2d Battalion, 505th Infantry, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division
1st Battalion, 508th Infantry, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division
82d Support Battalion, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division
2d Battalion, 321st Artillery
Company C, 307th Engineer Battalion
Troop B, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry
58th Signal Company
518th Military Intelligence Detachment
52d Chemical Detachment (For the period 6 October 1968 to 25 October 1969)
4th Public Information Detachment
Company O, 75th Infantry (For the period 1 February 1969 to 11 November 1969)
37th Infantry Platoon (For the period 30 January 1969to 11 November 1969)
There are hundreds of good poems out there and if some of the guys have any spare time they can reflect back and write something themselves. They could be thought provoking, humorous or sad.
Here’s one I like. I never found the author or title. It may be from WW2 but I’m not sure:
I have ridden the skies in great machines, hooked up and jumped with the best of men. I have fought long and hard, and when I felt I had no energy left, I have been fired by the fear that if I stopped fighting, my comrades would die. And when I was in danger, enemy all around, I heard the thunder from my left and my right, as my life was defended. I have never been alone. I’ve lived, jumped, fought and battled to victory with the greatest assemblage of men on earth.
I received the below article from Stephanie Kovac, the young lady from Fox News, who covered our reunion in April. It’s pretty moving. Thought we might want to share it with the Brigade. I’ll be meeting with John Moody from FOX News Group after Labor Day to present him with our plaque. I will then ask for a copy of the video of the interviews in Dallas.
Stephanie Kovac is a producer for FOX local news channel, Dallas Texas. She covered the 40th Anniversary reunion of the 82nd Airborne’s 3rd Brigade, Golden Brigade, deployment to Vietnam 40 years ago. She was born the same month and year, February 1968. Some may remember the 1968 Tet Offensive.
Airborne All The Way!
As a journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to not only witness history, but in a sense, write it. This weekend, I was afforded a rare luxury. It was as if I was allowed to step back in time and set foot on a page right out of my high school history book. The only difference was the room full of heroes I found myself standing among weren’t the ones I’d read about.
I was born in February 1968, the same month the 82nd Airborne’s 3rd Brigade deployed to Vietnam on February 20th- the same day they suffered their first casualty.
This weekend, I stood face to face with those who survived as I was assigned to cover their 40th anniversary commemoration. I thought for sure I’d meet a group of old timers eager to share war stories. Instead, I was introduced to a group of men who’ve been in some strange way frozen forever young in a faraway place.
I heard many stories of how they’d sustained their war wounds, and most of the time, the room resonated with laughter. It was as if there was a kind of camaraderie in killing that I couldn’t possibly understand.
Granted, I knew who “Charlie” was. The history books had taught me that.Â But, the stories of “gooks” took me back. Most of the time, the word seemed to slip, and was often followed with an immediate apology. I wasn’t offended. I thought it utterly fascinating that a generation who’d fought so bravely for freedom hadn’t yet succumb to the censorship in this country known as political correctness. As if these old warriors have anything for which to apologize?
This country owes them. Much more than an apology. This country owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude. This country owes them their due.
I’m not sure I have any greater understand of what Vietnam was really about, any better understanding than I had in high school. And, to hear the men of the 3rd Brigade tell it, I’m not sure that Lyndon Johnson really understood it either. Every time I posed the question “what were you fighting for“ the answer was the same. To stay alive.
The Golden Brigade, as they’re known, served 22 months in Nam. 227 were killed. Two remain missing. They never lost a battle.
Yet, my history book taught me that America lost the war. I now know we won it militarily, and lost it politically somewhere between Paris and Washington, D.C.. I can’t help but wonder if public perception was the real reason these men paid such a steep price for their sacrifice. Was it because we weren’t victorious on all fronts that those who came home from Vietnam had no homecoming?
Hearing the barrage of stories, it was easy to draw similarities between the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. There are many who believe, like Vietnam, we have no place in Iraq. That it is not America’s duty to police the world. I wonder what it will mean to the young men and women on the frontlines today if politics cost us another victory? Will they come home to streaming yellow ribbons or anti-war demonstrations and banners of protest? Will they be welcome?
I’ve always heard “war is hell” but it wasn’t until I stood among these aging soldiers that I fully understood what that meant. It has been 40 years since these men fought in the killing fields of Vietnam. 40 years. And, each told stories in such vivid detail it was as if I was watching a movie. 40 years was a lifetime away, and as close as yesterday.
It was their eyes that told the whole story. Haunted by images time can never heal. Brimming with raw emotion. Sadness. Anger. Resentment. And, justification for it all.
Their stories seemed incomprehensible, unfathomable. It was as if a page had been torn from my history book.
How long had these men lived with the stigma of Vietnam? One returned home to find women wouldn’t date him because he’d served in Nam. Another ducked into an airport bathroom seconds after arriving in the States, hoping to change his clothes before anyone noticed his military fatigues. Another remembered only one parade- it was 40 yards long, and 15 years after the fact.
These men weren’t the Harley hippies that have become America’s stereotypical image of the Vietnam vet. They were doctors and lawyers, and officers of the law. Productive members of society who still live with Vietnam. Still go to bed with it at night. Still wake up with it every day. Still shudder that a song on the radio, or a copse of trees could cause them to “flip”. One told me a rock hit his windshield while he was en route to the celebratory event. He dove beneath the dash. That same man had six brothers and couldn’t relate to a one. He was the only son who’d served in the military. But, he found comfort in the room that night. And, every man among him understood his sense of peace.
It wasn’t as if these men were the best of friends then or now. It was circumstance that bonded them together as a band of brothers. And, I learned that bond may not have stemmed from what they endured together but what they lost. Their innocence.
Earlier this week, I sent a care package to a friend’s son serving in Iraq. I loaded up a box with beef Jerky, and mixed nuts; crossword puzzles, and a deck of cards; Chap Stick and anti-bacterial wipes; batteries, an international calling card, a disposable camera; and a can of Silly String to detect trip wires. I never met the kid. I don’t even know if he likes Jerky, and I don’t agree with the war in Iraq. But, I know freedom isn’t free, and that that young man is fighting for me. I pray he comes home to a hero’s reception.
The greatest history lesson I ever learned came long after high school, taught by the wounded warriors of the 82nd Airborne’s Golden Brigade. This time, there wasn’t a single page missing.
Interview with Val Kilmer (Esquire Magazine, July 2005, page 123) concerning his acting abilities.
Interviewer: You understand how it feels to shoot someone as much as a person who has actually committed a murder?
Kilmer: “I understand it more. It’s an actors job. A guy who’s lived through the horror of Vietnam has not spent his life preparing his mind for it. He’s some punk. Most guys were borderline criminal or poor, and that’s why they got sent to Vietnam. It was all the poor, wretched kids who got beat up by their dads, guys who didn’t get on the football team, couldn’t finagle a scholarship. They didn’t have the emotional equipment to handle that experience. But this is what an actor trains to do. I can more effectively represent that kid than a guy who was there.”