Michael Arrington, Vietnam veteran
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
I arrived in vietnam seven months after my 18th birthday. I always wanted to join the military from a very early age (about 13). I remember reading all the books in my school library (Ben Franklin High) about world war II. I knew just about every military leader on both sides. I guess I became sort of an expert on that war. Vietnam didn't touch me personally until I was sixteen and Russell Heath, who lived two doors away, was killed in Vietnam. I never thought much Vietnam, I just wanted to join the Army. The thought of going to a war zone never crossed my mind. I remember my mother signing the enlistment papers for me because I was too young to enlist on my own ( you had to be 21 in Pennsylvania to do anything). I would arrive at Ft Bragg, NC for basic training in Feb 68. Then go to Ft Huachuca, AZ for AIT. Then two weeks Vietnam Training, and two weeks later, Vietnam! Out of approximately 150 people in the class of Company A, 2nd Bn, 1st Bde, they called 16 names and informed us that we were going to the Republic of South Vietnam. They told us to report to the hospital for shots. I think I was more afraid of them than where I was going. July 1968, was one of the most exciting months of my life. First time out of the United States, new soldier, and in a real war. Long Binh, South Vietnam had more americans than any other base in Vietnam. I guess, however, I was a piece of home away from home. Well to make a long story short, Vietnam made me reenlist in the Army. Vietnam made me spend the next 20 years and five days of my life serving the american people. Vietnam is where I grew up!