Our Charlie Company buddy Michael Belis writes:
On February 25, I went to Fort Polk for the dedication and ceremony of their museum’s latest display. It represents Soldiers trained at the Fort during the Vietnam years.
Two veterans are showcased in the display, myself, from Lafayette, Louisiana, and Carl Cedars, from Alexandria, Louisiana. Carl and I never knew each other, but we trained at Fort Polk at the same time. I was there May-September 1969 and Carl was there June-October 1969.
Both uniforms in the display represent me. The khaki uniform has stuff on it that I actually wore in the Army, and the jungle fatigues are an actual set I wore in Vietnam, along with the boots and hat of mine from Vietnam also. I have a photo of this jungle fatigue shirt in my photos on our website.
The khaki dress uniform is how I looked after graduating Infantry training, as a brand new Private First Class. On the uniform is the actual name tag I wore, along with my infantry collar brass, infantry blue shoulder cord, National Defense Service Medal ribbon and sharpshooter badge. All these are from a uniform I wore in Germany, after leaving Fort Polk.
The jungle fatigues are an actual set I wore in Vietnam, at Tuy Hoa, late 1970 and early 1971, and represent me on night ambush patrol. The shirt has my name tag, US Army tape, Combat Infantry Badge, 4th Division patch, 1st Field Force patch, and blackened brass SGT collar rank, though of course most of it is hidden by the bandoleers, or can’t be seen because the collar hides it. The hat is the one I wore in Vietnam, and the boots were issued to me in Vietnam also. The bandoleers are fashioned as I wore them on patrol, though I never would have worn that top one so loose. The bag hanging from my left shoulder is a claymore bag. I never wore a claymore bag………..that was the curator’s idea. Some of the guys in the platoon did use those bags, so I guess it’s accurate enough for the display. Hanging from the neck are my dogtags in a plastic silencer, a Christian cross and an AK-47 cartridge which I took from a North Vietnamese cache at a bunker complex southwest of Binh Khe in September 1970. Yes, I wore that junk around my neck for at least a few months.
Carl and I each have a poster board, giving some details about us.
The c-rations are ones I sold to the museum years ago. The curator added the non-Army issue bottle of Tabasco sauce, after I told him how I couldn’t eat a lot of that stuff in those cans without drenching it in Tabasco. Smart guy that he is, he knew the Tabasco would turn brown after a few years, so he emptied the bottle and filled it with red candle wax.
The black and white photo is me and Carl Cedars. I am, of course, the short dumb looking guy on the right.
The award coin was presented to me and Carl by the Fort Polk Garrison Command Sergeant Major, CSM Brian S. Wood.