The Tom Petty Home Page


I remember well the day I and 52 others took our pre-induction physical. We loaded onto a bus and went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When we came back there were nine of us listed as 1-A. The ones most eligible for the draft. And it was not a lottery draft. Your name was on the bottom of the list and they took off the top.

Well the draft lady got the 9 of us on the curb and told us our chances for getting drafted in the month of our birthday. She said us 9 were the ones that month and she needed to find 12 so we knew what our chances were to get drafted.

I enlisted as a utilities worker, which was a little bit of everything. Cement, welding, pipeline, carpentry, electrical. Etc etc.

I took basic at Ft. Leonard Wood (in August 1966) and then went to the other side of the base for AIT in utilities worker.

Everyone but 6 of us went to Viet Nam right off the bat. We 6 sat for about a month doing KP and odd jobs until we were sent to Thailand in Feb. of 1967.

I was assigned to the 697th Engineer Company along with a guy named Carey who had been in basic and AIT with me. The rest were sent to C Co 538th Eng. Bn.

Carey and I were soon joined by others and we were sent all over most of central and North East Thailand. I noticed that as people rotated out they were all sent to Germany if they weren't going home. I didn't want Germany so I extended for 6 months so that my time left would not be long enough to go to Germany.

I spent time in Udorn, Nakon Pahnom, Korat, and Sattahip but my most rewarding times were in Roi Et and traveling around with different units taking pictures for the company records.

I rotated out to Ft. Leonard Wood in July of 1968. I went to the 515th Engineer Company (pipeline). The battalion, which we were attached to, was a riot control battalion and when I came there they were hot and heavy into training for riot control at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Mr. Tom Petty Now If you remember there was a lot of rioting in Chicago at this time. We put all our stuff into our foot lockers and it was trucked out to the airport and sat there. If we wanted a change of clothes we had to go out to the trucks and get it. We went this way for about 4 or 5 days. We were told that if we were called in it was because the National Guard was over come by the rioters and we would be carrying live rounds. Whether this is true or not I never asked, I just didn't want to go.

I taught pipeline for a while until the trainees were all sent to Viet Nam. Then I was postal clerk for a while, company clerk when the regular guy was on leave, and platoon sergeant to the remaining permanent party. When I was ready to get out in August of 1969 (3 years to the day) they said the only thing they could offer me to re up was to send me to pipeline school and then off to Israel to teach them pipeline. I decided no because the 67 war had just ended and things were not peaceful there.

I went home

E-mail Me

Back to 1st Platoon

Updated: March 6, 2001