Dilts, Melvin, SP 5

Engineer Corps (Enlisted)
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Current Service Status
USA Veteran
Current/Last Rank
Specialist 5
Current/Last Service Branch
Engineer Corps
Current/Last Primary MOS
62B20-Construction Equipment Repairer
Current/Last MOS Group
Engineer Corps (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1967-1968, 62B30, 15th Engineer Company
Previously Held MOS
62B30-Construction Equipment Repairer
Service Years
1966 - 1969

Specialist 5



 Ribbon Bar

Rifle
Auto Rifle

 

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Post 6535, Sgt. Robert D. Gautreau PostNational Rifle Association (NRA)Post 109Arizona Chapter
Chapter 41
  1969, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 6535, Sgt. Robert D. Gautreau Post (Member) (Lynn, Massachusetts) - Chap. Page
  1988, National Rifle Association (NRA)
  1995, American Legion, Post 109 (Member) (Corona , Arizona) - Chap. Page
  2009, Patriot Guard Riders, Arizona Chapter (Deceased Member (Honor Roll)) (Arizona)
  2011, American Legion, Post 36 (Member) (Tucson, Arizona) - Chap. Page
  2011, American Legion Riders, Chapter 41 (Member-at-Large) (Phoenix, Arizona) - Chap. Page


 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
Not Specified
   
Other Comments:
Not Specified
   

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Engineer Units18th Engineer Brigade
  1966-1967, 62B20, 15th Engineer Company
  1967-1968, 62B20, 18th Engineer Brigade
  1967-1968, 62B30, 15th Engineer Company
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)/Operation MacArthur/Battle of Dak To2
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)1
 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Post 6535, Sgt. Robert D. Gautreau PostNational Rifle Association (NRA)Post 109Arizona Chapter
Chapter 41
  1969, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 6535, Sgt. Robert D. Gautreau Post (Member) (Lynn, Massachusetts) - Chap. Page
  1988, National Rifle Association (NRA)
  1995, American Legion, Post 109 (Member) (Corona , Arizona) - Chap. Page
  2009, Patriot Guard Riders, Arizona Chapter (Deceased Member (Honor Roll)) (Arizona)
  2011, American Legion, Post 36 (Member) (Tucson, Arizona) - Chap. Page
  2011, American Legion Riders, Chapter 41 (Member-at-Large) (Phoenix, Arizona) - Chap. Page

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Reflections on SP 5 Dilts's US Army Service
 
 Reflections On My Service
 
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE ARMY.
Received my draft notice shortly after my 19th birthday. Talked to a recruiter and decided I wanted the Army to teach me a skill that was usable in the civilian market.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
SP 5 Melvin Dilts (Mel) - Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
Basic training at Fort Dix, NJ

Advanced training at Ft Belvoir, VA.
Engineer Equipment Maintenance (Honor Graduate)
Engineer Equipment Repair (Honor Graduate)

Assigned to the newly reformed 15th Engineer Company at Ft Campbell KY. Our task was to hone our skills and get our equipment ready to deploy to Vietnam.

We accompanied our heavy equipment to Vietnam via troop/cargo ship. This was a 30 day journey from Seattle/Tacoma to Qui Nhon under less than wonderful conditions. Our company stayed in that port city for a few weeks to unload and assemble our equipment. We then traveled to Pleiku and finally to the Dak To airstrip where we set up base camp. Our mission was to set up and operate a rock crushing site, the product of which we used to repair/upgrade existing roads and create new roads where needed.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE MILITARY SERVICE, DESCRIBE ANY MEMORIES YOU STILL REFLECT BACK ON TO THIS DAY.
The 1968 TET Offensive. Specifically the mortaring of the Dak To airstrip next to our base camp.

The mortar rounds struck the two C130's that were offloading artillery ammo into the adjacent ammo dump. That started a chain reaction of explosions that lasted for nearly 24 hours. EVERYTHING in and around the ammo dump was completely destroyed (exploded or incinerated). All flammable objects in our camp that were above ground were reduced to ashes (tents, tires, any structures, some vehicles, etc). The ONLY thing that saved our personnel, and others, was the fact that many of us had chosen to dig underground bunkers some time before and were living in them at the time of the attack. Many other folks joined us in the bunkers when all the explosions started.

The aftermath was unreal. Ashes where there were structures. Ordinance on the ground everywhere. All personal possessions that were above ground.... ashes. the only things we had left were what was on our bodies and in the bunker. For a few days the only vehicles that could "safely" get to us, because of the unexploded ordinance, were tanks and APC's. It was C-rations and minimal supplies for quite a few days. You've heard of the "Dirty Dozen"? We were the "Dirty Company" as there were no facilities for showers or anything else for that matter.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
SFC Lynford Longey. He was rough, tough, knowledgeable and fair. If you did the best you could and tried hard he would stand behind you. if you were a slacker he rode your ass. Think "Gunnery Sgt Tom Highway" of the movie "Heartbreak Ridge". That was SFC Longey. He was a good man and a great leader and I felt like he was a friend.

Update 12/5/2013: Mr Longey died in May of 2010. I tremendously regret not finding him sooner and thanking him for the training and support he gave me when I was under his command. He was a great man and I will mourn his passing.

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