GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – A Great Bend native said it’s sad to think so many he served with in Vietnam have already passed away.
Ed Archer said the infantrymen relied on one another in a very trying time.
Archer said the worst part of going to war was being away from his Mom and Dad for the first time.
He had never flown in an airplane or taken a bus ride, that was until he boarded both as a member of the U.S. Army.
“It made a man out of me, I guarantee you that,” Vietnam Veteran Ed Archer said.
Archer said when he looks back to his time in Vietnam, he first thinks about what he and his fellow soldiers went through.
“Most time we ate C-rations, and we stayed out in the bush for a long time, and every once in a while they would bring us in for a little getaway,” Archer said.
Archer said while out in the bush, rodents were everywhere.
“We are all in this big old bunker thing, sleeping in there and a big old rat fell on a guy while he was sleeping, and he is screaming and yelling,” Archer said.
He said the monsoons were challenging, as well.
“They are bunkers, they are just a round metal deal with sandbags on top of them,” Archer said.
He said one night he woke up and water was flowing through his bunker.
“Took my steel pot and put it underneath my head and went back to sleep,” Archer said.
Archer said they were battling far more than nature, and although the enemy didn’t ambush them too often, they were always on the lookout for booby traps.
“I have a lot of friends, I had one friend killed by a booby trap, and a lot of them injured,” Archer said.
When there were injuries or casualties, Archer was part of a mobile unit that would go wherever it was needed.
“If they needed some security up in the DMZ, we went up there and then if they needed security or something down at Laos,” Archer said. “We went down to Laos and guarded the bridge for many weeks while they evacuated Laos, when they got out of there.”
He said it was years after his time overseas that he went for a check up at the VA.
“I seen these volunteers walking around and thought that is a good thing, I think that is what I will do,” Archer said.
He signed up to volunteer at the VA and he says the more time he spent there, the more he thought about his battle buddies, so that’s when he started looking them up.
He went on to organize a Vietnam reunion for his unit, right here in Kansas.
“We haven’t seen each other since that and it is just like they are the same people, you know, friendly as all get out,” Archer said.
Archer said you would have never known the group, mostly drafted from small towns, hadn’t seen each other in nearly fifty years.
He said the reunion here was actually the third one they’ve held.
Archer said when they were in Vietnam they all wrote down their names and phone numbers on a piece of paper, and one of the soldiers then mailed it home to his mother.
Many years would go by before that sheet of paper surfaced again, but the idea to write all of their names down was what brought them back together decades after they served.