Memories That Last A Lifetime with Captain Dan Bradley
It has been half a century since local veteran Dan Bradley first deployed to Vietnam to serve in the U.S. Army. He is a veteran and a Gold Star son; his father was killed in action on March 1st, 1945. Dan, along with members of a veteran’s tour group, took an opportunity earlier this year to visit Vietnam; they were able to tour the beautiful country, including the areas where they once served. It was an emotional trip reminding them of the days that had since faded, and refueling the memories that will last a lifetime.
Dan originally arrived in Vietnam as a Lieutenant and returned home one year later as a Captain. His duties included but were not limited to: “battery level fire direction, battalion level fire direction and command of Headquarters Battery.” He has many stories of his time in service, but two stick out when reminiscing on his Vietnam base: “Most serious story was when our base, Fire Support Base Nancy was attacked on April 13,1970 by a large North Vietnamese Army unit. We lost six men that night from the unit I had been in command of three months earlier…Funny story, I was knocked out of my bunk when a large caliber cannon fired directly over my hooch.”
The tour group consisted of veterans from a variety of bases. They spent 13 days in Vietnam, and Dan stayed an additional three days touring solo. Dan recalls visiting the area of FSB Nancy with his tour group being an especially moving experience: “ I was able to conduct a brief memorial for those who had died there. I was with a group of fellow veterans and that provided a lot of support.”
During his days touring alone, Dan spent time shopping local and exploring the landscape via roads and boats. Vietnam has transformed since he was last there almost 50 years ago: “The country as a whole has become very modern. The economic system has embraced capitalism and things are booming. When I was there before much of the countryside was desolate and impoverished.”
The veterans made sure to assist locals as they travelled: “ We visited a somewhat remote village area and provided them with simple basics such as hygiene items. They were grateful. Some of them were veterans of the South Vietnamese Army.”
Returning back to a place with such powerful emotions attached is no easy task. But, according to Dan Bradley, “[In all] it was a very good experience. There were some very emotional but cleansing times and there was a lot of good fellowship and storytelling.”
As a message to the American youth, Dan shares this: I would certainly recommend that some military time be a consideration for all. Service to others can be very uplifting.” Serving in the military provided Dan with strong discipline and showed him the value of teamwork; both are skills that he applied to his civilian life once returning home.
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