Lest We Forget: A legacy of military service
It's rare to speak to a military veteran who can say that every generation of his family from World War I to present has served in a war that the United States has been part of, with the exception of the Korean War.
Vietnam Veteran Stanley William Elliott reflects on this fact with pride.
"One thing I am particularly proud of, is that my family has served this country for four generations," said Elliott of his family military history.
His grandfather on his father's side, William Bradley Elliott, (his middle namesake), was severely wounded in World War I. His grandfather's brother, Stanley Elliott, (first namesake) was killed in World War I. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
On his mother's side, four of his uncles served in World War II. On his grandmother Elliott's side, there were three uncles who served in World War II. His uncle Howard Elliott served and fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He suffered tremendous mental anguish after getting out of the military. He never married and spent his entire life picking crops around the country.
When he was 12 years old, they visited his grandmother Bartlett. His uncle Howard showed up unexpectedly.
"I asked my grandmother one time why Howard was the way he was, and all she said was 'It was the war,'' indicated Elliott.
The only war that his family was not involved in was the Korean War. One of his nephews was in the Marine Corps in Iraq, and another nephew was in the Air Force in Afghanistan.
Elliott's dad was in the Navy at the end of World War II. He then worked full time for the Oregon Army National Guard.
Elliott's time in the military service
Elliott joined the Army in January 1969. He went directly to Fort Lewis, Washington, and it was a particularly hard winter.
"I remember wondering, 'What am I doing here — freezing to death, running in 18 inches of snow?' I kept telling myself that millions of others guys have done this, 'and you can get through it.' I got through it, and then went to Fort Lee, Virginia, in March 1969."
He went to a supply school and then went to Chu Lai Air Base in Vietnam in June 1969. Chu Lai is 56 miles southeast of Da Nang, Vietnam. It had been a supplemental base to the major airfield in Da Nang.
"When I went got there, I went to the 23rd Infantry Division — which is called the Americal Division."
Initially called "Task Force Oregon," they were later re-designated as the 23rd Infantry or Americal. He had four or five days at the combat center before he was assigned to his unit.
"While I was there, I got my first taste of a rocket attack when they attacked Chu Lai with the rockets."
He recalled that although Chu Lai was a large air field, you could see the rockets land on the airfield.
Shortly after, he was stationed at Landing Zone Bayonet at the 1st Battalion, 52nd Infantry of the 198th Infantry Brigade. He was assigned to the headquarters company as a supply guy. He spent the remainder of his time in Vietnam in this unit.
"While I was in this unit, I did a multitude of different things. My commander was always looking for people to do extra jobs, and he needed supplies taken out to the units in the field. I would fly in the helicopters out to the field to resupply the units," said Elliott.
He enjoyed this because he was able to see the country from the air.
"Vietnam was a beautiful country. It is a triple canopy jungle, rice patties and everything is green."
Elliott also did perimeter night patrols in addition to his usual duties.
He served 18 months altogether. He was promoted several times, and after one year, he extended his tour. The Americans began the process of Vietnamization for the native people and turned the Landing Zone Bayonet back over to the Vietnamese Army. They moved their headquarters back to Chu Lai.
"Part of the reason I extended, I felt a lot safer there," Elliott noted of Chu Lai.
One time, however, they were rocketed for two days in a row. They were targeted with 40 rockets each day. When they missed, aiming for the fighter jets on the airfield, and overshot, they hit the helicopters. When they missed the helicopters, they hit the area he was stationed.
"After the first day, they started getting us up at 4 a.m. in the morning to get us in bunkers to keep us safe."
Shortly after returning to Chu Lai, Elliott had some leave. In 1970, he went to Hawaii and married his high school sweetheart. The relationship wasn't to last, however.
He came home to the States and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He was discharged honorably from the Army later in 1971.
"After I got out, I came home, and there weren't many jobs in 1971, so I joined the Oregon Army National Guard."
Elliott worked full time for the Oregon Army National Guard as a supply technician, working in the warehouse and eventually was promoted as a warrant officer. He also worked as a property book officer at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas.
Elliott hurt his back in 1988 and had back surgery in 1989. He retired with a medical discharge in 1993. The physical aspect of being in the National Guard was too difficult, so he retired after 24 years of total service in the military. Elliott retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 3.
"I enjoyed my 24 years. Now, I am suffering from it. Because of my Vietnam service, I have Agent Orange cancer, and I have been dealing with that since 2005."
He is a 100 percent disabled veteran, and the cancer is still active in his system. Elliott indicated that in spite of his injuries, he would serve again.
"It was an honor. I volunteered, and I would do it again — and wouldn't think twice about it."
Other facts and information about Stanley Elliott:
He served in Vietnam from June 1969 to January 1971.
He has been in the following military organizations:
American Legion for 25 years. Past First Vice Commander.
Veterans of Foreign Wars 17 years.
Disabled American Veterans 15 years.
23rd Infantry Division (Americal) Association 23 years.
Decorations and medals received during Vietnam:
Bronze Star Medal
Three Army Commendation Medals
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal