My Father’s Hat

Photograph and story: Jim Dotson



They say a picture says a thousand words...

This is my father’s hat representing his army career of about 28 years, I believe, which started around 1957.

He did his first combat tour in Vietnam with the 173rd—1965, or so– very early in the war.  He did a second tour about 1968 or ‘69 with the 101st

Airborne Division.  He volunteered for that tour, I am told, to get us out of New York City, where he was assigned to the recruiting station at

Whitehall Street, Manhattan and based out of Fort Hamilton, (Brooklyn).

I know he was in some heavy-duty combat: Operation Hump in November 1965 (the subject of a Big & Rich country song). I went to a reunion with him in

Atlanta concerning this action.  I think he was also at Hamburger Hill with the 101st.

I never got a clear picture of his time in Vietnam.  The first time I ever heard him mention it was at his retirement dinner at the Green Jacket

Restaurant in Augusta, GA.    I met some of the guys he served with at a reunion, and until then I had no idea that he had the chestfull of medals

because he was a freaking hero.  Interestingly, he does not recall a lot of the incidents that his buddies praise him for.  He’s in counseling at the VA

and is a verified sufferer of PTSD.

Anyway, you can see he was mainly in airborne units, was a jump master and a combat medic.  He retired as the first sergeant of the army hospital at Ft

Gordon, GA.  He’s now retired from his second career as the quartermaster/armorer at Wackenhunt Security at the DOE Savannah River Site.


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