Tales from the Field: Deuce honors military memories

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Ralph Jones had a reunion of sorts when he found an M35 in West Virginia. Both veterans, Ralph served in Vietnam from 1969-1970, the same time frame when the Deuce entered service.

Ralph Jones had a reunion of sorts when he found an M35 in West Virginia. Both veterans, Ralph served in Vietnam from 1969-1970, the same time frame when the Deuce entered service.

 

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.

 

Firebase Illingworth at dawn on April 1, 1970, just after the worst battle of the worst single day of the war. U.S. forces suffered a 40 percent casualty rate while the the 272nd NVA Regiment suffered nearly 50 percent.

Firebase Illingworth at dawn on April 1, 1970, just after the worst battle of the worst single day of the war. U.S. forces suffered a 40 percent casualty rate while the the 272nd NVA Regiment suffered nearly 50 percent.

 

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.

Each year on April 1, Jones and fellow veterans commemorate the memory of the 179 killed and wounded of Fire Support Base Illingworth with the laying of wreaths at Fort Sill.

Each year on April 1, Jones and fellow veterans commemorate the memory of the 179 killed and wounded of Fire Support Base Illingworth with the laying of wreaths at Fort Sill.

 

This April 1, Jones will drive his deuce to the wreath-laying. He will complete his restoration with new canvas before making the trip.

This April 1, Jones will drive his deuce to the wreath-laying. He will complete his restoration with new canvas before making the trip.

 

 

 

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