Charles Lee Helle
Born Feb 1st 1935
I grew up in rural Illinois, wore bib overalls until high school. ( not because of fashion ) but because they lasted almost forever.
My Dad was a farmer and a sawmill man. If perhaps you don't know what that means, look in the Dictionary under Hard Work. Chores ! from the 2nd grade on, started working at Dads mill weekends and summers from the 5th grade on.
Age 12 had 1st 22 rifle, with lots of instructions from the best damn rifle shot I have ever known.
Age 14, had 1st driving license, 1st Car, was delivering lumber by myself as far away as Gary,Ind. found out all about girls :-)
Age 15, gave up school, could work all day at the mill with any man, then stay up 1/2 the night burning up a tank of gas
Age 15-17, in trouble with the law- not much respect for authority. ( some things never change ) a hellraiser! then one day a Judge talked to me like my Dad didn't. Told me in plain english where I was headed, if I didn't change !
Up until then it had been fun & games, stupid I am not. Since that day I have bent over backwards not to run into any more judges.
Age 19, discovered the Pacific NW, fell in love with it ! My home of record since then.Age 20, joined the Army for a 2 year hitch, during Basic Training, we were told that all 2 year men would be sent to Alaska, anyone who wanted to change to a 3 year hitch, could get a school of their choice. I beat every one else getting my hand up ! No Igloos for me !
Ft Knox, KY, M47 heavy tanks 11E MOS, held over as cadre for next class. Don't know why as I was the ordinal sad sack
( 18 months as Pvt E-2 )
Jan 56 got married while on leave before shipping out to Korea, 21 days at sea on the USS Freeman. Spent 18 months in a Tank Company, found that a Pvt didn't make enough to support a wife, 2 months before leaving Korea I was a Sgt E-5. Stayed a E5 for the next 10 years. Not all that unusual in those days.
Thanks to my Dad I was able to be on several post rifle teams during my 1st 10 years, but always held the tankers MOS
The 1st 10 years I had 3 tours in Korea, with stop overs at Ft Lewis, Ft Ord, Ft Knox & FT Stewart
1965 found me in Camp Beard Korea, 2nd BN, 72nd Armor. Viet Nam was all that was in the news. I decided that for various reasons I needed to see what that part of the world was like.
March 1966 found me reporting into 1st Div Hqs for further assignment. No tanks in the 1st Div at that time. During my 2nd tour in Korea I had picked up a MP MOS as a secondary. Thus in the 1st Div I was given two choices for a job. MPs or Inf, I chose the latter.
Charlie Company 2nd/28th Inf ( Lai Khe ) was my home for the next year. Picked up one promotion, a CIB, two bronze stars, and the Vietnamese cross of gallantry with silver star. (not for doing anything outstanding, more like being in the right place at the wrong time)
April 1967 found me reporting into Ft Ord, there I wrote out something like a history of my little part in the Viet Nam war. Never did finish it, but there's 11 pages that I will put on this web page in the near future.
Sept 1967 found me once more at 1st Div Hqs,( mostly due to a family breakup ) I asked to go back to Charlie Company, no dice. I could go back to Lai Khe though, 2nd/2nd Inf needed people a few days later a bunch of us replacements
unloaded from a 5 ton in front of our new Bn Hqs.
I think someone had called ahead and told them, there's a crazy buck sgt on the way up.? The Sgt Maj was sending men off to what ever company's they were going to, when he came to me he said " I just lost a supply sgt, could you run a supply room until I get a replacement ? The next 10 years I worked in the supply field.
June 1968 I heard about this new army company that was in Viet Nam. They had boats and patrolled the rivers and high seas in South Viet Nam. Being a supply sgt was boring ! This sounded right up my alley.
July 1968 & a reenlistment found me reporting in to the 458th Transportation Company ( PBR ). River Patrol Boat, beat the pants off a anything I'd ever seen on Puget Sound. One thing wrong, my new CO needed a supply sgt.
Fickle Finger of Fate ? or my Angel working over time?
Spent 19 months with the 458th, even got to where I knew where the different forms were for :-)
My CO asked me where I wanted to be transferred to upon leaving Vietnam, told him I thought I should go to supply school to learn what I'd been doing the past two years.
Jan 1970 I reported to the Quartermaster School Ft Lee, VA expecting to go to school HA They made me a instructor.
Oct 1970 was transferred to the Arctic Test Center Ft Greely, Alaska as procurement NCO based at Fairbanks.
July 1974 transferred back to Ft Lee, VA where I stayed until retirement
Two pictures from my younger days click to enlarge, one picture from my late years :-)
I found the below on the Internet a few days ago, I never had the privilege of meeting the good Colonel. However his words describe why men step forward when their country needs them
Charles G. Clinger
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army
June 6, 1944 - April 11, 1993
"It is better to have lived one day as a lion than thousand days as a sheep"