Michael Belis

Company C 1/22 Infantry

4th Infantry Division & 1st Field Force (IFFV)

September 1970 - May 1971

 

 

 

I was inducted into the Army in May 1969. I took basic Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in
Company C 3rd Battalion 2nd Training Brigade, on the part of the base known as "North Fort".
All of "North Fort" was called Tigerland. My Basic Training Company was one of the very few
of that kind stationed in Tigerland. I took my Advanced Individual Training (AIT), which for me
was Infantry, in Company D 3rd Battalion 3rd Training Brigade, also in Tigerland at Fort Polk.
Altogether I spent some 22 straight weeks in Tigerland.

Upon completion of Infantry training I was given the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of 11B10, for Infantry.
There were 180 of us in my Infantry training Company at Fort Polk. Of those, 40 were National Guard or Reserve,
so when they completed Infantry training, their active duty committment was done, and they returned home.
That left 140 of us. Of those, everyone except three Soldiers received orders for Vietnam. Three Soldiers
received orders for Germany. I was one of those three Soldiers.

In September 1969 I was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to take the driver's course for the Armored Personnel Carrier, M-113.
Upon completion of that course my MOS was then changed to 11B2U, which indicated Infantry/Driver. I reported in October
to Fort Dix, New Jersey, to get on a flight to Germany. I met up with Charles Kennedy, who had gone through AIT and
APC driver's school with me and was also one of the three of us who had orders for Germany. The third guy, whose name
I can't remember, never showed up, and Kennedy and I went over together to Germany.

After arrival in Germany, Kennedy and I were sent to the 3rd Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division where we
would be assigned to a unit. An alert clerk who was processing us at Brigade Headquarters noticed our
driver's MOS's. Headquarters Company for the Brigade needed two drivers at that moment, and he assigned us
to HHC 3rd Brigade 8th Infantry Division. Kennedy was assigned as the Brigade Commander's personal driver,
and I was assigned to the Commo Platoon to drive an M-577 Command track. We were stationed at Coleman
Barracks, Sandhofen, Germany, just outside of Mannheim.

For the next 8 months Kennedy continued to be the BDE CO's driver, while I drove my M-577 on manuvers
at Baumholder and other places. We would back four M-577's together to form a cross, stretch canvas
between the tracks, and that would be the Brigade Tactical Operations Center, or TOC.

In April 1970 I was sent to a Signal School in southern Germany near the Swiss Alps, at the Prince Heinrich Kaserne
at Lenggrice. I graduated third in my class of Communications Center Specialist, and returned to the Company to work in the
Brigade Message Center. Completion of that signal course authorized me to have my MOS changed from Infantry,
but I never did so. In early summer 1970 a theater-wide levy came down for Infantry and Helicopter Mechanics
needed for Vietnam. Both Kennedy's and my name were on that list. That meant that of the original 140 in our Infantry
training company eligible to go to Vietnam, 139 of us made it to Vietnam. Kennedy and I never found out what happened
to that guy who never made it to Germany with us. I like to think he escaped Vietnam. I reported to Fort Lewis
a week or two late, thinking I would be thrown in the stockade for being AWOL, but they just took the time
off of my unused leave, and shipped me to RVN.

In August 1970 I arrived in Vietnam. I was assigned to Company C 1/22 Infantry 4th Infantry Division as a rifleman
in 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, "Sidewinders". From September through October 1970 Company C was in the field on
what was one of the last search and destroy missions of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. In November of that year
1/22 Infantry was detached from the 4th Division and came under command of 1st Field Force (IFFV). From November
1970 until April 1971 Company C was engaged in defensive operations, which included guarding bases at Tuy Hoa, Phu Hiep
and An Khe. At Tuy Hoa we also ran night ambush patrols in the rice paddies around the base.

I rotated home in May of 1971, after serving a full two years on active duty, sixteen months of which
were spent outside of the Continental United States.

 

 

 

 


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