Veteran recalls Vietnam service

John Seifert

Clarence Plank

John Seifert was drafted into the Army in March 1969, then shipped to Vietnam for two years.

Sgt. Seifert was an infantry man and lead a group of six to 10 men near the end of his tour.

“I guess when I got drafted it was a situation I just knew I was going to end up there,” Seifert said. “I was a foot soldier. I was the guy you would see on the news wearing the backpack. Unlike Iraq or other places, you were in the jungle…”

Seifert said if someone was familiar with living back east it was like being in a wooded area. He was scared going over to Vietnam because he didn’t know what was going to happen to him.

He arrived at Benoit, which was the main air base in Vietnam. He was taken to a training area three miles away from base. Seifert said they spent a week there being told what to expect and what he was going to be doing.

“Then we were taken out by truck to a point and helicoptered into another area,” Seifert said. “I was put into a platoon that I was going to be working with and that night was really scary. I thought there was no way I was going to sleep.”

Seifert said his wife, Lynn, asked him how could he sleep and he explained to her that when he slept at night the day came very quickly because he was so tired.

“We weren’t in an area that was heavy with North Vietnamese soldiers,” Seifert said. “We dealt with Viet-Cong types. Did we get into any firefights? Yes, we did. Every day we got up, and got prepared, and we would go 1,000, 1,200 or just 50 meters. Then we would set up camp and send out patrols and they would come back to set up for the night.”

They would patrol the area for about three or four weeks, meet up with other groups to get mail or head back to the main base for three or four days for rest. Seifert said that was what the cycle was like being there.

He started out in the 99th Light Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and then to the 1st Calvary, which was his last assignment before coming home. Seifert said he was a platoon leader because he had experience in the field and he planned missions throughout the area.

“I was a squad leader mostly because of my rank,” Seifert said. “I was responsible from anywhere from six to 10 guys depending on the cycle. We’ll have a guy go home and maybe he’ll be replaced and then there were times I had 10 or so people.”

Seifert said the most stressful time for him in Vietnam was when the Marines and Army were training the South Vietnamese to take over the job they were doing.

“So we turned this pretty large fire base over to them that had an eight-inch gun in it and a bunch of 105s, which is the artillery we would call in when we’re in the field,” Seifert said. “We got into trucks and went to an airlift point. The entire brigade, which was several hundred guys, got on helicopters and flew to different areas.”

Seifert returned home in January 1971 to his fiancee and now wife, Lynn, who waited to be with him.