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July 28, 2006
Oroville Mercury Register 1971

Las Plumas Graduate on Second Tour
Oroville Soldier Assists in Withdrawal from Laos
LANG VEI, Republic of Vietnam (USARV-10) When the order came down to move out, Specialist Five Ronald C. Henry of Oroville was ready. His unit, Company B, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, had been called upon to meet and assist the safe and orderly withdrawal of Republican of Vietnam armed forces (RVNAF), units from Laos in the recently completed Laotian incursion phase of the Lam Son 719 operation. The five-week-long operation was designed to disrupt enemy supply routes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and destroy enemy supplies. Henry, 25, a tank driver, and his unit were deployed from Fire Base Vandergrift near the Demilitarized Zone to Lang Vei just east of the Laotian border. His battalion is the only unit of M-48 tanks still serving in the Republic of Vietnam.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip E. Henry of Farley St., Henry is a 1964 graduate of Las Plumas High School. He entered the Army in September 1964 and arrived in Vietnam on his second tour last November. Henry’s unit began the above west in three elements. The column of tanks, armored personnel carriers (APCs) and trucks cautiously moved west on dusty QL 9. The heavily traveled road begins on the South China Sea, winds west past Vandergrift and Khe Sanh, and continues into Laos, ending at the border of Thailand. By noon the same day, Henry’s company had reached Lang Vei. The battalion joined armored cavalry units there in patrolling the road and looking for North Vietnamese army (NVA) regulars in the area. Just as quickly as the unit had made the move, the stretch of the road between Lang Vei and the border became known as “Ambush Alley”. In the face of enemy rocket-propelled grenade ambushes and command-detonated mines planted under the road, Henry and his buddies were charged with the responsibility of finding and destroying the NVA before the impending withdrawal. On the other side of the border overlooking Lang Vei is infamous Co Roe mountain where Henry watched B52 strikes against North Vietnamese positions. In 1968, NVA troops spilled out of well fortified positions on the mountain to attack U. S. Marines at Khe Sanh. The following day a cloud of dust could be seen rising from the border crossing where South Viet Troops were safely and quickly returning to home ground for the first time in two months. Tanks and APCs were positioned on both sides of the road as the armored column of more than 100 vehicles made its way toward Khe Sanh.

An interesting sidelight to the withdrawal was the sight of some 50 Montagnards following the column as they came south seeking safety in the Republic of Vietnam. What few personal possessions the mountain tribesmen had were carried on their backs. With their assistance in the withdrawal complete, Henry and his buddies resumed the task of keeping QL 9 open while U.S. and most RVNAF forces were proceeding to other areas of operation. Their job done, men of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor are looking forward to the day when the unit will make a final move back to Quang Tri, the unit’s base camp, signifying the end of the campaign for them. Instead of C-rations and sleeping on a tank, Henry will enjoy hot meals, plenty of hot water and soft, warm bed at the base camp.

The words of Janie Henry 2006 “ Spec 5 Ronald Carl Henry, born 1946, died in 1997.
Coming home- The happy-go-lucky boy that was called by his nation went to war in Vietnam, an angry man returned to face the nation who now hated him. The ravages of undiagnosed PTSD daunted him for decades. Through it all he loved me, his children Nate and Stephany, his family and his best friend Don Baldridge, his compadre in all matters of responsible and irresponsible adventures. Ron was a truck Driver. He worked for Taresh & Michael Trucking, Gurrel Ranch and Terry William’s Farms in Richvale. Ron was finally able to put aside the trauma of war and move forward with life when the Vietnam war came back with a vengeance. Cancerous effects of “Agent Orange” – had consumed his entire body he died September 23, 1997. On September 9th of that year he finally got a letter of recognition from President Clinton. He said even with the ravages of war he would go back. He was spit on as an Honor Guard by the mother of the soldier being buried.”

Oroville Mercury October 23, 1957

Americans Stay Off Streets in Saigon
SAIGON (UP) Americans alerted by sabotage bombings of three U. S. Buildings, stayed off streets this morning while thousands of Vietnamese massed in the City Hall to celebrate the first anniversary of the Hungarian resolution. Saigon’s 2,000 Americans—all but about 200 of them employed by the United States Government—received strict instructions limiting their movement. United States officials told Americans to stay home except for going to and from work. The orders followed the bombing Tuesday of two American Army billets and of the United States Information Service (USIS) library in which 13 American Military personnel were injured. The Vietnamese government believes the bombings were engineered to embarrass the South Vietnam government.

Stu’s Notes: I have included this article of 10/23/57 because I and most people don’t know the whole story of Vietnam. I was never there so I can only write about what I hear and read. I can say what I think about Vietnam from what I feel and learned as I grew up in a country that knew what communism could do and it was to be feared. I grew up under the threat of nuclear attack. Oroville even had a few private bomb shelters. We know what the communist did to our young men in Korea. I truly believe that we went to Korea and Vietnam to help these people become free. In Korea it worked, I think it would have worked in Vietnam if our young men were allowed to fight to win. As it was from what I’ve read we never lost a major battle there. We just came home, after turning over our supplies to the South Vietnamese and in two years they were defeated, in 1975. Our young men came home to a country were a minority of the people despised them and the majority of us (me included) in our busy lives just said hello, no parades, celebration’s, life went on. I do know that if I ever saw a person spit on a Soldier, other than a grieving mother, or burn an American Flag I would have gone to jail. I would have been all over him or her. Many think we started the war. But if you read the above article this was just one little incidence that happened to our young men and women over there. It was way before the war started. Names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall go from 1959 – 1975. Remember the Communist Leader of Russia said “We will bury you”. Thank God for our brave young men and women through the years they didn’t let this happen. We must never forget them and their sacrifices. Men like Spec. 5 Ronald Carl Henry, hero to me and I hope Hero to all of America. He didn’t die in Vietnam but I truly believe he died from the affects of that long ago war. As have thousands of others.