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Tom Andrzejczyk, July 2002

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Tom Andrzejczyk
Veteran of the Month, July 2002

Brief Bio: dob, service, occupation now, family

On Thursday morning, April 22, 1948 all was quiet until a doctor slapped me really hard. I punched him and kissed the nurse. Things have been pertty much the same since. Army: Grunt - door gunner - S-2 NCOIC - Grunt again. Retired, former cop, Detective/Sergeant. Father of two sons, husband of one great wife.

Why did you decide to join the Armed services?

I wanted to join in the summer of '66, it seemed it would be interesting but Dad bought a cherry red Mustang and suggested I use it to go to U. of Mass. for a year. In January of '67 I sort of broke the Mustang, broke up with my lady and quite college all in the same week. The Army was the next logical step.

Where were you assigned during your tour?

Basic at Ft. Knox, AIT at Ft. Gordon, then 9 months base camped out of Cu Chi, 9 months out of Tay Ninh, 9 months out of Saigon.

What was your first assignment?

Seven FNG's arrived the same day to join the 4/23rd Mech. Infantry. They wanted one man to be an RTO and one to be a M-60 gunner. Shooting lots of bullets sounded like a good idea. Actual assignment - go out in the wood and play Cowboy and Charlie.

Where did you go next?

For the first six months we did search and destroy, convoy duty, spent 56 straight days in the Hobo Woods (which was unpleasant). During Tet we fought at a special forces camp, Pric Loc, in the towns of Trang Bang and Go Ta Ha and a bloody fight at Ap Cho. In May there was a big fight called the battle of the Race Track just north of Tan Son Nuht. In the fall of '68 Tay Ninh really earned it's nickname of Rocket City. In '69 stationed in Saigon, the main fears there were bedroom ailments. (Of all my many virtues, chastity was not high on the list.) Joined Feb. 5, 67, Arrived in RVN June 28, 67. Left Veitnam and was dischared 9/9/69.

Have any interesting highlights to share?

Got to really bond with some great young men as well as Kentucky Bourbon. Too many of those young men will be forever young, too many bottles got empty too soon. There is a parallel there. Always tried to make light of any situation. Proud of making people laugh when there was no reason to smile. Yeah, that was a highlight.

What were your most memorable experiences in the military?

My first fire fight. We were walking in some low grass, on line and got within 50 yards of a hedgerow when Charles opened up. I had played a lot of high school sports. When I hit the ground I lifted my hands in the sign of a "T", I was trying to call for a time out but could not find a referee. That only lasted a second or two before the M-60 started speaking, but talk about a dumb kid.

How did you feel about going into combat?

My family has a long history of being in wars, so it was sort of a rite of passage. It was frightening, hazzardous too, however my adrenline flowed freely. There were times when I felt everyone else was in slow motion. Guess I've never gotten over that "high". Combat is the ultimate full body contact sport. The winners don't go to Disney World but in most other sports they don't bury the loosers.

What was your homecoming like?

In a very liberal town of 17,000 most people knew I had been in RVN and stayed longer than necessary. Phrases like "baby killer" were mentioned, usually almost out of ear shot. It really hurt when old high school friends would walk to the other side of the street so they wouldn't have to say hello. After a week of that I flew to the left coast, put on a college t-shirt and cut off jeans. The local ladies (espically those who were legally blond) just knew I was a college dude from "back east". Life became uplifting, mellow and my horizons were broadened. Never talked about Viet Nam, it was like a bad dream. Sometimes it seems like a dream.

What do you consider your greatest achievements?

In Viet Nam, I didn't die. After the war, finding the perfect wife (well, almost perfect). Fathering two sons who I deeply love. Staying close with my parents and learning how smart they really were. Putting more than 50 people, who were all evil, wicked, mean and nasty into state prison would rank up there. Oh yes, I've never puked as a result of drinking a fifth of anything. Due to the fact lots of us have Master's Degrees, I won't mention that.

Are you active in veterans' organizations?

Yes, 25th ID Association, VFW, MOPH.

Do you keep in contact with your military comrades?

We are sure that 8 of us from Co. "C" 4/23rd who were there during Tet are still alive. One of them will be visiting in July, all 8 of us will be at the 25th Division reunion in September, God willing. Sadly several others died in the '80s and '90s from fevers of an unknown origin. That was my diagnosis before they discovered the cancer. Thus, to all of you, get regular check ups, and for God's sake, Stay Healthy.

What can be done to improve public awareness of foreign policy and military and veterans' affairs?

Actually TEACHING American history in public schools would be a great start.

Are there any messages you would like to communicate to your fellow veterans?

The Kama Sutra isn't only for the young!

Thank you for your service to our country and your time in this interview.

Being VMO is of course an honor. Please do not consider this a salute to me, it's a salute to veterans. Afford me the privilege to salute each of you. Not only the veterans but also the women who have had to put up with us and those who's husband made the supreme sacrifice. May we be blessed with peace in the future or at least be allowed to kick the butt's of those who do us wrong.

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