by Ralph Jones
Let me introduce myself: Ralph Jones from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a Vietnam veteran (1969-1970). I put my unit back together but am still searching for others. We happen to have Memorials at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Since 2003, on every First of April, I and some others lay wreaths at our memorial at Fort Sill.
For several years, I had been thinking of buying a 1969 or 1970 deuce-and-a-half. I finally found a 1969 M35 in West Virginia. My project has been restoring it back to the Vietnam style.
Last year, I decided to take my 1969 deuce to Fort Sill for a test drive. Driving my truck through the town of Lawton, I got lots of people giving me the thumbs up or tooting their horns at me. I had great looks from everyone as I drove it down the road—even from the Highway Patrol.
On the first day, while driving on the base, the word had gone out about me. Security and veterans started showing up. They were very pleased to see my truck. It has been a long while since a 1969 deuce-and-a-half appeared on the base.
April 1 is special for some of my group—survivors of Fire Support Base Illingworth on April 1, 1970. Trying to make this short: It was a baiting operation by the 1st Air Cavalry. In one week (March 26-April 1, 1970) 42 American soldiers died, and 137 American soldiers were wounded—179 Purple Hearts.
We proud members of 2nd / 32nd Field Artillery are having our next reunion at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where we will lay five wreaths.
Thank you, and your staff, for helping the veterans and others to keep alive the wonderful recollections of their military times. It is a beautiful sight, seeing others getting involved in restoring the memories.