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[WATCH NOW] Veteran of the Month: Ted Tucker – April 2019

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SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Each month, SylacaugaNews.com and Yea!106.5 feature a veteran online and on-air, honoring them for their service to our country. Presented by Radney-Smith Funeral Home, the SylacaugaNews.com and Yea!106.5 Veteran of the Month for April is Ted Tucker.

 

*note Q is abbreviated for questions asked to Ted Tucker.  A is abbreviated for Tucker’s answers.

Q: Tell me your full name

A: Ted Thomas Tucker

Q: And your Date of Birth

A: December 28, 1946

Q: Where and when did you serve?

A: 173rd Paratroopers in Vietnam, Sgt E-5, 1966-7, then 1967-9 82nd Airborne in Ft. Bragg, NC training troops there. After I got back in the states, they wanted me to re-enlist and I said, No.  I had enough in Vietnam so I didn’t re-enlist. I just trained troops and got out.

Q: Was your job in the Army to train paratroopers?

A:  Training troops after I got back from Vietnam. That’s what I did.

Q: What did you do in Vietnam?

A: I was Infantry, airborne infantry, served with Charlie Company First 503rd We were called the Groundpounders.  A whole brigade got wiped out. We were a replacement unit there for the 173rd but I didn’t know that. I got in straight out of high school. I signed up for airborne and the next thing I know they cut my orders to go to Vietnam. So I went to Vietnam and served a year there, done some heavy combat, got a Bronze star, Purple Heart and some other medals.  We got hit in Doc-to, Sui-Da, done some heavy combat. If it hadn’t been for the Lord, I wouldn’t have made it back. God had His hands on me.  My Mom and Dad were praying for me all the time, at the time I was in Vietnam. God Had his hands on me the whole time because the whole brigade got wiped out and we were the replacement unit there and I never will forget when I first touched down in Vietnam, the heat, it was like 110 degrees in the shade. They had 2 seasons: they had monsoon season which it rained 3-4 months at a time, just rain; and then they had a hot season there. I got adjusted to it when I got to Vietnam. I was glad to make it back to the states. Now I serve with the American Legion, Post 45. Jim Hagle is our commander there in Sylacauga. We invite all veterans to come up and join with us. If you’re a veteran, we welcome you.

Q: What is something you remember most about your time serving?

A:  The most I remember from my time serving was well like I said, we done some heavy combat and everything in Vietnam. There’s a lot of things the Lord has taken from my mind, which I don’t remember, but that’s good. I remember R&R, we went to R&R in Thailand. I had a good time there and people was humble. They’re a very humble people. That’s what I remember there. Also Radcliffe, he was Golden Glove there for 2 years, I remember Ft. Bragg, NC. He was from New York city. I remember boxing him. I just used my knowledge as a street fighter at the time and I whooped him good. We were trained there in Vietnam by Sgt. Tiam, my drill sergeant. I never will forget he said, You’re gonna learn to hate my guts. He had done 2 tours in Vietnam. He had a black belt, about a 9th degree, and I didn’t realize what he was doing at the time because he was a drill sergeant and I was a young boy going into the service and everything, but he was training us to go. He knew we were fixing to have orders cut to Vietnam and he was training us in hand to hand combat. He would say, “Fix bayonets and come at me, and if you didn’t do it right, he would have the butt of that rifle and it would hit your jaw and knock you out clean.

Then he’d get you back up and do it again, and he would train us. We ran 5 miles before breakfast saying “I want to be an airborne ranger, I want to live the life of danger, sound off 1-2, sound off 3-4, break it on down, 1-2-3-4, 1-2, 3-4. And then we’d start out running a regular pace,  and then we’d pick up the pace and everything and Sgt. Tiam would run 5 miles backwards. And I never will forget he would say, “Do you want to drop out?” And he would harass us and everything, call us all kinds of different names, get in our face and everything. I said, “Sgt if you can run 5 miles backwards, I can run 5 miles forward. And so that’s the only thing that kept me going and everything. He was training us in Ft. Bragg, NC as we were running. He would run the horns off a billy goat. We’d run and everything we’d do, we would run. And I remember training at Ft. Bragg, NC, and if you didn’t salute an officer, you’d be all day long saluting a telephone pole saying “Good morning sir, good morning sir. I also remember they’d do it for harassment. They’d have you in the dying cockroach position—that’s when you feet are straight up in the air all day long. You’d be staying on your back saying “I’m a dying cockroach, I’m a dying cockroach.” And they’d do it for mental harassment. We went to the catwalk after we ran 5 miles and then we’d go into breakfast to eat. That was after we get in line and you stand at attention, and then parade rest, and then go into the chow hall and you had 30 minutes to eat and then back on the line again. So I remember those things there although it’s been about 50 years now, but I still remember. I remember things at Vietnam and I remember things at Ft. Bragg, NC. The first plane I was ever in, in my life, I jumped out of. It was a C-130. They gave us extra pay to jump out and I said “Well just sign me up.” So I jumped out of everything from a helicopter to a jet. Everything that was jumpable, I jumped out of it at that time. We were the first ones in Vietnam to jump out, 2nd battalion, 173rd Airborne Division jumped out in Vietnam. We had full combat gear. When we were coming down, we’d see red tracers coming at us. I was a machine gunner and as I landed, I landed in a rice patty and sank up. When you start seeing those tracer rounds you get that extra energy. The Lord had his hands on me. I started seeing rounds popping and a round in front of me  and I got out of the rice patty with my machine gun with the Lord’s help. We set up a perimeter. And then after we got back, they had a red alert there at Ft. Bragg, NC, that we would go to South Korea, so we had combat gear, everything from tanks and jeeps and everything that was set up. We set up a perimeter in South Korea at a red light. They wanted to see how fast we could move at the time. So we went to South Korea and jumped out in South Korea and set up a perimeter there, and after we set up a perimeter, the combat zone and everything, we moved back to Ft. Bragg, NC. So that was my experience at Ft. Bragg, NC and also the 173rd Airborne Division. And I can tell you God had his hands on me at all times, because at that time I didn’t know the Lord. When I came back from Vietnam, I had a bad decision on life but then I came to know the Lord as my personal savior, and then, He changed my life. Although my mother and dad had been praying for me, and I got saved when I was 12 years old, although I ran from the Lord until 1974, and then I asked the Lord to come back into my heart, and He did. So I give God the praise for everything He’s done in my life.

Q: If you could say anything to someone who wants to serve, what would that be?

A: If anybody out there wants to serve as a paratrooper, or airborne ranger, or in the Army, Navy or service, I’ll just tell you that you have to stay focused. Don’t get discouraged because they’ll make you or break you. Now I had good times and bad times. I’ll just say pray and ask the Lord what He wants you to do.

Q:  If you could, would you do it again?

A: If I had to do it again, I would do it again. Because I believe in serving for my country, my state and my president. And I went over there so we could be free. And free indeed. When I went over there in Vietnam, and fought and everything, that’s what I was thinking about at the time. ‘Cause if I wasn’t over there doing that, well then they would be here in America fighting, so I had kids and everything and I didn’t want my wife and my kids to be involved in that war. War is a bad thing. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. You have to have it to stay the Home of the Brave.


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