Rolando Salazar "Sal" 66 – 67
In late 1965, the U.S. began to increase its military presence in South Vietnam. I was attending college, but because of the need for more troops, my student deferment was cancelled and I was called to duty in the Army shortly after in February 1966. I was trained at Ft. Hood, TX and assigned to HHC, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment (Mechanized), 2nd Armored Division–a distinguished unit which had received the Presidential Unit Citation during WWII and whose motto was “Straight and Stalwart.” I trained with 4.2-inch mortars mounted on tracks and concentrated on Fire Direction Control. We also went through a jungle-training course in the fall of that year.
In December 1966, I was assigned to the mortar platoon of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. I was sent to the battalion base camp near Phan Thiet, VN, where I served the entire year, The 2/7th had been sent there in August 1966 and our mission was to open the supply routes into and out of Binh Thuan province. It was necessary to clear the area of NVA regulars and Viet Cong units operating there. I was a mortar crewman for half of my tour and was promoted to “Chief Computer” of the FDC for the last half of my tour. We patrolled with the company, using 81-mm mortars or a 60-mm mortar, which we had recaptured from a VC unit early in the year. We had pretty much accomplished the mission when my tour ended and I left for home in December 1967. Shortly after I left, the battalion was moved north to relieve the Siege at Khe Sanh and participated in heavy action in the Ashau Valley and other areas where the Cavalry was needed. We sustained heavy casualties during those campaigns. Units of the 101st Airborne had replaced the 2/7th at Phan Thiet and they, too, had heavy casualties especially during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
After returning home to San Francisco, California, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Transportation and a Master of Business Administration degree and worked for one of the major railroads in the U.S. I organized and managed a group that trained our marketing employees throughout the country on computer applications. I retired after having been with the company for 30 years.
Because I have been involved with veterans associations here in the U.S., I was attracted to and I connected with some of the Vietnam re-enacting groups in the U.K., particularly the UKAC. At the UKAC, I met and became friends with some former members who organized the AFVN Living History Group. I am sure that their previous experience in re-enacting and their strong knowledge of the history of the Vietnam War will make theirs an excellent addition to the groups providing living history in the U.K.