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Daniel Phillips, October 2005

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Daniel Phillips

Veteran of the Month, October 2005

Brief Bio: dob, service, occupation now, family.

Born June 24,1950. Joined US Army May 15,1968 at Louisville KY. I am retired from the trucking industry and I make White Oak Baskets and demostrate at art and craft shows. I'm married to Sandy and together we have 4 grandchildren. This is the town where I grew up and all my brothers and sisters live here. I have been around the world and I still wind up back here, Tallassee, AL.

Why did you decide to join the Armed services?

Because I love America. My Great Grandfather served in the 60th Alabama Infantry during the civil war, My grandfather seved in France with the 81st Infantry Division"Wildcats". My father served with the 13th Army Air Corp in the Pacific as a waist gunner on a B-24 bomber. I wanted to do my part, and did.

Where were you assigned during your tour?

Fort Campbell-basic training
Fort Gordon, Ga-Camp Crockett-Infantry training
Fort Benning, Ga-jump school
Fort Bragg, NC-Special Forces
Chu Lai, Vietnam-23rd Infantry (AMERICAL DIVISION)
Fort Lewis, Washington-basic training
Lee Barracks, Maniz, Germany-1/509th Airborne 8th Infantry Div

I was sent to Vietnam Sept 11, 1969 and returned Sept 11,1970. I was assigned to Delta Co "Black Death" 3/21st 196th Light Infantry Brigade. I served a year as a grunt, coming over as a PFC and leaving as SGT E-5. I was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with "V" Device and Purple Heart. Was pointman for platoon for about 4 months, promoted to Sgt and made squad leader. Kept that job until I left. Was promised E-6 if I would extend for 6 months but didn't want it that bad. It was a year of just humping the bush, running patrols around the base of LZ Center. Some good days and some bad days and some days really sucked. Made some good friends and lost good friends. I learned that no matter how bad things are here it can be worse.

Have any interesting highlights to share?

After spenting 2 months in the bush, coming back to the rear area and cleaning up. On this standdown the company was called into a formation and about 10 names including myself were called out. We were marched to the supply room where our old boots and uniforms were exchanged for brand new boots and uniforms. We were then marched back in front of Delta Co. The Battalion Commander and SGT Major pinned Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Arcoms and Purple Hearts on us (myself a Bronze Star). When they left we were marched back to supply and turned in the new stuff and put back on all our old gear. We didn't rate high enough to get a new pair of boots!

How did you feel about going into combat?

Scared, just like everyone else. I was scared the 1st time I was in combat and I was scared the last time I was in combat. But you learn how to manage that fear and continue with your job. I have seen people who could not funtion at all in a firefight and we would send them back to the rear.

What was your homecoming like?

It was just what I asked for, to meet my wife and son alone at the airport in Montgomery. I didn't want anybody else there and nobody said anything to me. I do want to say this, If somebody had throwed an egg, or spit on when I got back, they damn sure better be ready to fight.

What do you consider your greatest achievements?

My son Eric Wayne Phillips. He is my heart and soul and now he has given me two sons. He a good kid and he makes me proud of him.

What are some of the highlights of your life since the war?

Working as a voluteer in the PTSD ward at Tuskegee VAMC, being able to help my brothers cope and learn new ways to deal with problems.

Riding across America in 2004 with "Rolling Thunder".

Being presented with a Purple Heart 33 years later and having Topp Gatewood read the award in my hometown.

Are you active in veterans' organizations?

I belong to the 196th Association, the Americal Division and Vietnam Veteran of America. I go to the 196th Reunions, last one being in Branson, MO in 2003.

Do you keep in contact with your military comrades?

I try, Topp Gatewood here on the Patriot Files served with me and about 4 years ago I met up with 4 other guys I served with in Nam. We still call and try to keep up with one another.

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

"Live like everyday is your last one.
Call your buddy today!
Take care and keep dry...White Oak"
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