Like the site says, my name is Steve Houghton. How I ended up serving as a LRRP Team Leader is a long story.
Like a million other guys my age I got drafted not long after I got out of school. I took a one year trade course after High
School. I went to Ferris State College in Big Rapids Michigan to be a welder. I graduated there in Sept 67. I got my draft
notice in mid Oct of that same year, and I was inducted Nov 16, 1967. I was shipped to Fort Knox Kentucky for Basic Training.
I was there for about a month when they sent us home for Christmas leave. During that leave, I married my High School sweetheart,
Evonne Johnson. And after 6 or 7 days together, It was back to Knox to finish Basic Training. During this time I ended up
as the Platoon Guide for my platoon. You know, that "acting jack" they picked out of the platoon and give the slip on stripes
to. That was the first step for me down the road to becoming a LRRP Team Leader. Form Ft Knox it was on to Ft Ord California
for a two week Leader preperation course, and then to Infantry AIT. I was assigned as Platoon Leader right away, and I prepared
myself for a couple more months of crap, like Basic Training. But to my surprise it was totally different. The day before
the trainees arrived I met one hell of a nice guy in the person of Sgt Mike Glines, my platoon Sergeant. AIT got a lot easier
right away. The first day I met him he invited me to his house, on base, to meet his wife Mary and have dinner with them!
Can you believe that?
Mike was a Vietnam veteran. Infantry obviously, wounded in action, a real soldier's soldier. He
treated me like a brother. Mike was a great athlete, he could throw a football like a pro, inspite of his shoulder wound.
He put together a football team from the unit, we played and beat everbody. He was good to all the men. He was tough, and
fair, and good. I thought that if I ever made Sergeant, I'd try to be like him. Mike became my friend. In fact when I was
held over after AIT, he and his wife made room for me and my wife Evonne, to share their on base housing! They gave us their
extra bedroom. So Evonne flew out from Michigan for two weeks, and it was the nearest thing we ever had to a honeymoon. They
even let us use their Chevy Malibu! But one thing Mike did was assure that I went to Vietnam. He didn't mean to send me there
I know, but when he recommended me for NCOC training, it had the same effect. You see my whole unit, except me and a friend
named Ronnie Williams, shipped to Korea! Mike and our Platoon Leader, LT Onchi, said we were to talented not to go to the
Army's new NCO program. It was supposed to be an all volunteer program, but we know how that works. I got voluntered! So two
weeks later, Evonne went home, and Ronnie and I shipped to Fort Benning Georgia to join Class 33 of the Army's NCOC program.
It took me a couple of weeks to get over missing out on Korea. Man I was going to Nam for sure! I first thought about washing
out of this training, but we were assured that all washouts went straight to Vietnam anyway. So I started to apply myself.
If I had to go, I was going to learn everything I possibly could. A couple weeks into training, my wife came down from Michigan
and we got a place off base. We could only live there together on the weekends, as I had to stay in the barracks during the
week. She drove out from Columbus to the base every night to see me. It was during this time that we both made some good friends.
There were several married couples in the same boat as us. The brass didn't like it, but we had our wives move close to the
base. One of the men I met there, and became friends with was Bruce Hinz, form Wisconsin. Bruce was one of the olders guys
in the unit. We became friends with the Fosters, Dwaine and Brenda, along with John Horning, Larry Fanella, Stokely Jones,
Dan Dylak, Ronnie Fullerton, John Kenton, Mike Hawley and others. Phase I went by and we graduated as Sergeants July 31,1968.
Ronnie Williams graduated top of the class of 145, and made Staff Sergeant. Bruce and I got assigned to Fort Polk for Phase
II along with the Fosters and Dan Dylak. So it was off to Louisiana. Evonne and I shared a place there in Leasville with the
Fosters we met at Benning. We lived off base in a mobile home we shared with Dwaine and Brenda Foster. They were from New
Orleans, and went home every weekend, so we had the honeymoon suite all to ourselves on the weekends! Phase II was interesting
to say the least. I met a college roommate down there and also my cousin Allen Houghton. He spent a weekend or two with us,
as he was lonely as hell, being newly married and away from his wife. His unit was several weeks ahead of mind. He shipped
to Vietnam a month ahead of me.
Well Phase II ended in early Oct 1968. I picked up an extra stripe, and finished Phase
II as a Staff Sergeant. Burce and I got our orders. Report to Ft Lewis and Vietnam.
Evonne and I headed home for a 15
day leave. It went by fast. Her family and mine both had going away parties for me. Those were tough events. But then I did
the toughest thing I have ever had to do in my life. And that was to turn and walk away from my wife at the airport in Detroit.
I walked onto that plane at the last possible moment, and I knew I'd never see her again. That flight to Ft Lewis was a sober
one. When I got to Ft Lewis, I found Bruce, and that helped lift my spirits. As I said, Bruce was older than me by four years
or so, and even though I had the extra stripe, I considered him to be the leader. I leaned on Bruce. I thought if maybe we
could stay together, we'd look out for each other, and maybe, just maybe, we stood a chance to come home. Well we arrived
at Cam Rahn Bay in late Oct 68. Man was it hot, I thought Georgia was hot in July, but this was hot! We moved to a replacement
center near Long Binh or Ben Hoa, and there we got seperated. He went to the 101St and I went to the 199th. I was pretty scared
at this point. Here I was a twenty year old Staff Sergeant wondering if I could measure up to what was ahead, and without
a friend in site. We had heard about fragging back in the states, guys knocking off leaders they thought were incompetent.
How would these veterans view a snot nosed 20 year old Staff Sergeant. I was pretty concerned about it. Then one day while
at camp "Frenzel Jones", the basecamp for the 199th LIB, during the in processing phase for the new replacements, I heard
that some small unit called "LURPS" or something was looking for volunteers. I had never heard of LRRPS before, but was told
they were a pretty "hairy" outfit. "Man you don't want that, those crazy fools go out in six man teams right into Indian country,
just looking for Charlie" I was told. They sounded like elite tough soldiers to me, and I thought they had to be well trained
to do that stuff. They can't have idiots in a volunteer unit like that, and with six man teams, I could get to know who to
trust and who not to, real fast. So I walked on over to their orderly room and talked to the First Sergeant Overpeck. He laid
it all out for me, pretty much liked I'd heard. I made my decision right then and there, before I walked out of the orderly
room. I said "I want in, if you'll have me". They did, and that is how I became a "LURP" in the best damned outfit in
Vietnam. I never regretted that decision. And yes, I did measure up. They taught me well in NCO school.
|Bruce Hinz 101St Division Vietnam 68-69
|Bruce and I trained in NCOC school phase 1 & 2 together only to get seperated in Vietnam.
|Dwain Foster 1St Division Vietnam 68-69
|Dwain & I trained together thru phase 1 & 2 of NCOC school.
|Dwain Foster in Vietnam
|Dwain said when they got Lrrp rations, they were eating good
Dwain served in B Company 1st of the 2nd - 1st Division 68-69
He would like to establish contact with others who served with his unit.
I went to NCOC (Shake and Bake) school with these two men. Bruce Hinz and Dwain Foster. I mentioned them in
the above story. I will never forget these men. I'm happy to say they both survived the war. That wasn't
the case with all of us. Sixteen of our class died in Vietnam. Men like Larry Fanella, Ronnie Fullerton,
Stokley Jones, and Joseph Kelly. We were close to these guys, and it hurts still to this day knowing they didn't come
back. But these two did! I am happy to say, that Bruce lives in Elk Mound Wisconsin, and Dwain lives
in Gretna Louisana. We keep in touch along with our other buddy John Horning from Minesota. I hope to post
a photo of John soon.
|Dwain Me and Ronnie
|This was taken a Ft Benning in Summer 68...Ronnie was killed that winter in Nam