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William H. 'Bill" Phillips - Vietnam War

Bill Phillips grew up as the son of teachers in Chenoa, Illinois. In 1969, following his first year of teaching in Pontiac, he was drafted, and soon received training as a medic. Assigned to the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam, Phillips spent time with an armored battalion, then was transferred to a medical evacuation unit, where he rode to the evacuation of countless American casualties. He finished his time in Vietnam serving as a company medic in an Infantry unit. That unit participated in the invasion of Cambodia. During R and R in Hawaii, Phillips contracted malaria, and spent the rest of his tour working as a clerk at the Tripler Army Medical Center.

Interview Links

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Growing up in Chenoa and initial training in the U.S. Army

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Experiences in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Experiences in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division

Transcript

Photos

Caption

Bill Phillips’ Basic Training photo, taken at Ft. Polk, Louisiana in June 1969.

Where:

Ft. Polk, Louisiana

When:

June 1969

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Private Phillips is attending a basic training class on field-stripping the M-14 rifle in June, 1969.

Where:

Ft. Polk, Louisiana

When:

June, 1969

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Bill Phillips is holding a 45 caliber “grease gun” or submachine gun, standard armament for members of a tank crew. This was January 1970, when Phillips was assigned as a platoon medic for the 1st Battalion, 69th Armor, in Pleiku, Vietnam.

Where:

Pleiku, Vietnam

When:

January 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“Our battalion surgeon had his own Armored Personnel Carrier converted into an ambulance and we called it “Doc’s Pill,” wrote Phillips. “As one of medics, I learned how to drive and it was used on several occasions as an armored ambulance.”

Where:

Pleiku, Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“Upon arriving in Vietnam, they took all of our American money except pennies. The money they gave us in return was called Military Payment Certificates. There were different bills for all denominations.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

“This was one of our tanks on duty guarding this bridge; obviously, we were a little late.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“We are washing our jeep ambulance in a local stream. Pictured is SFC Duke who was our senior battalion medic.” Like in the central highlands was very dusty most of the time, and this “was a good time to cool your heels.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“This is our jeep ambulance and I have been assigned some rear work in our battalion aid station.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“Huey helicopters were our standard “dust off” choppers in all of Vietnam. They were prominently marked as such but that certainly didn’t stop enemy fire.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“We were waiting for our helicopter assault into Cambodia in May of 1970. By this time, I was a senior medic in an infantry company. Note the towel around my neck to wipe off the sweat and the rings hanging my hat from smoke grenades.”

Where:

Vietnam/Cambodia

When:

May of 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“The aero medical helicopters are in the process of loading wounded soldiers,” writes Bill Phillips. “For a period, I was assigned as a dust off medic and served as a crew member and a medic on helicopter dust off helicopters.”

Where:

Vietnam/Cambodia

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain. The photo is from a postcard provided to soldiers.

Caption

“Clowning around with some friends in base camp between “humps” was natural. I attempted to look like a combat soldier with the bandoliers of ammo and a machine that I borrowed.”

Where:

Cambodia/Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“We are waiting for a helicopter pick-up of our company to places unknown. Note the small magnetic chess game at the bottom of the picture. I was playing with an artillery lieutenant who traveled with our company commander to call in fire missions.”

Where:

Cambodia/Vietnam Tour

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“This was a so called ‘Kit Carson scout.’ These were enemy soldiers that had been captured and decided to work for South Vietnam instead of languishing in a POW camp. He traveled with us but none of us really trusted him,” wrote Phillips.

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“In my entire tour in Vietnam Bob Hill (on the left) was my closest friend,” said Phillips. “He was later killed in a helicopter crash. I went to the monument in Washington D.C. to find his name.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“There weren’t many opportunities to stop and stick your feet in a ‘babbling brook’ very often. In this case, I’m brushing my teeth.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“I am sitting on the roof of an underground bunker at an unknown fire base. These fire bases provided artillery support for infantry in the bush. Occasionally, we would get off a patrol to take turns guarding the base.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“Perhaps my favorite picture of my Vietnam experience,” says Phillips of this photo. “I remember that we were lost somewhere in Cambodia and I was pondering our fate.”

Where:

Vietnam/Cambodia

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

[

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Caption

“Getting a bath in a stream was extremely rare. We had to set up elaborate security for men to relax and enjoy themselves briefly.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“Bob Hill and Tuco in foreground with me and another soldier in the background. Tuco was from a Puerto Rican street gang in NYC and I remember that he liked combat, perhaps the only soldier that I met that liked combat.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“I turned around and took this picture after just getting off this helicopter. You will note that the helicopter did not land because the terrain was unknown and we had to jump out.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“Although, I don’t remember his name, this was one my platoon medics,” wrote Phillips. “As I remember, he was a very happy and jovial guy from the City of Philadelphia.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

“This should give the casual reader some idea of the equipment that a soldier carried. It was heavy and we learned carefully how to only pack what we need and nothing extra. The bottle on my helmet was mosquito repellent which was not effective.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

While I don’t know the location of this picture, I can certainly remember the utter frustration, fatigue and fear that was a daily effect on a combat patrol. Perhaps you can see that in my face.

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

These are some captured weapons in the early days of the Cambodian invasion when large amount of military material was captured. These could be taken home as souvenirs as long as they were not “automatic weapons.”

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

We were there after turning in all of our armored vehicles to be returned statewide after the 1st 69th was deactivated and sent home. Armored vehicles had limited use and utilization in Vietnam. The terrain was not conducive to armored vehicles.

Where:

Red Beach, Vietnam

When:

Early 1970

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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