Larry Edward Swanson
Vietnam Military Service

By Jerry Dean Swanson


Larry Edward Swanson was born on 13 Aug 1952 in Madison, Dane, in Wisconsin as the second child of Larry Claude (Dockstader) Swanson and Marilyn Jean (Wegert) (Swanson) Schanel.

First Cavalry Division Insignia
First Cavalry Division Insignia


 Larry Edward Swanson, Bearcat Base, Vietnam
Larry Edward Swanson
Bearcat Base, Vietnam

Bearcat Base, Vietnam

Larry E. Swanson in Vietnam, 1971

Larry does not talk too much about his time in Vietnam, and when he does, it's only for 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. 

At this time, the North Vietnam forces had just crossed the border into the south in their advance.  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.

Larry said at one point, 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, subsequently crashed, and killed all aboard. 

Larry E. Swanson in Vietnam, 1971
Larry E. Swanson, 1971

Larry Edward Swanson
Larry Swanson
November, 1999
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.

They called him “Gunner”.

Larry Swanson, Nov 2006
Larry Swanson with Mia on his Harley.

Thank you for your service Larry!



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