Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

"No One Does More for Veterans"

Karl W. Richter Memorial Post

10217

Korat, Thailand

 

Byron Petrides

Byron is our current Junior Vice Commander, Post Surgeon and MIA/POW Chairman. He has also served four years as our Post Commander and a year as Post Service Officer. He is a dedicated and valuable member of Post 10217 and the VFW family. Below is a short Bio of Byron's service career and experiences in Vietnam. Also included are some pictures of Byron during the Vietnam days.

I enlisted in the Army in May 1968. After duty stations in Fort Ord, CA. and Fort Hood, TX, I shipped out to Vietnam in April 1970 as a Senior Wheel and Track Mechanic (E-5) attached to the 11ACR (11th Armored Cavalry Regiment)). I was in Headquarters Company, 2nd Squadron which had the Scout detachment and only had APCs so work in the motor pool was a piece of cake. Not for long as 2nd Squadron was the first unit to go into Cambodia (legally) in May 1970. Headquarter company was moved to a forward operating base in the Fishhook area. I was put in charge of a M578 VTR (Vehicle Track Recovery) which was powered by a GM V8 supercharged diesel engine putting out about 350hp, top speed about 40mph on hard top roads. We had a crew of 3, crane operator (me), rigger and a driver. It had a 50 cal. machine gun on each cupola and the cab could rotate 360 degrees. Weighed about 28 tons and had a 15 ton crane winch and 30 ton main winch. The Scouts were to escort convoys from our operating base to the forward troops in Cambodia. There were many road mines along the way and we lost a scout driver the first week when his APC rolled over a land mine. He was our only casualty for the 3 months of our Cambodia Operation. During a patrol one of our company members found a baby spider monkey in the jungle and that's how Clyde became our company mascot. Way before Clint Eastwood's Clyde.

Our Squadron pulled out of Vietnam in February 1971 and one needed 10 months in country to go home with the unit. I had 9 months and 28 days and was sent to Alpha Troop, 4th Squadron, 12th Cavalry which was attached to the 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (mech.) also known as Red Devils. These were the guys on the DMZ and off I went with another M578 to Khe Sanh where I spent the remainder of my tour as a mobile mechanic servicing M109s (self propelled 155mm howitzers) on firebases around Khe Sanh. Went home 3 April, 1971 and was honorably discharged 4 April, 1971.