Larry Edward Swanson was born on 13 Aug 1952 in Madison, Dane, in Wisconsin as the second child of Larry C (Dockstader) Swanson and Marilyn Jean (Wegert) (Swanson) Schanel.
I honor my brother's service.
by Jerry Dean Swanson
Larry does not talk too much about his time in Vietnam, and when he does, it's a very short time. These are some stories Larry shared with me. All are only snippets of those days because they are short mentions-in-passing.
When Larry enlisted, his original training was for the Military Police and that was the assignment he expected when they landed in Vietnam in 1971. When his unit arrived, they were ordered into formation on the tarmac so they could assign their MP posting location.
He explained how they made the assignments in alphabetical order. So, by the time got down to the "S’s", they had run out of assignments. They assigned Larry and the other remaining soldiers to the AirCav Intel Office, where he aided in the translation and forwarding of messages. He also called-in artillery strikes for locations requesting them.
Bearcat Base was a U.S. Army base near the city of Biên Hòa in Đồng Nai Province in southern Vietnam.
The Huey helicopter forces were in short supply of crew, so Larry and a couple of his friends volunteered. After only a few hours of training, Larry became a Door Gunner in a Huey. This is not Larry in the photo, but it does illustrate his job.
Boeing CH-47 Chinook in Vietnam
Larry tells me of how he and many fellow soldiers were due for some rest and relaxation, and were to be flown in a Chinook Heli to a location near the beach in the south. Just before departure, he was asked if he would stay
behind to assist in another duty. He volunteered.
The Chinook took off with his 34 friends. It subsequently crashed, and killed all aboard.
Larry wonders why he was spared.
Bearcat Base, Vietnam
At this time, the North Vietnam forces had just crossed the border into the south in their dvance.
Back home, we had no idea what Larry was doing there. Sometimes we sent him, and received from him, cassette tapes with news and stuff. Larry let us all believe he was over there doing normal MP duties. We never knew
until years later. He does not talk much about those times.
After he left Vietnam in 1972, Larry continued his military service, being stationed in Hawaii, Texas, and Belgium. He retired from the service.
He now lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, with his service dog, Mia.
Larry with Mia, 2011.
Thank you for your Service Larry!