My Father’s HatPosted: May 20, 2011
Photograph and story: Jim Dotson
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.