JACK PATTERSON

US ARMY, VIETNAM, 1967-1969

Jack D. Patterson is the son of John and Hazel and was born in Galion, Ohio in 1947. He and his older sister Carol were raised on a 110-acre farm where the family raised corn, oats, wheat and soy. Jack and Carol also raised Hereford Cattle as part of the FFA and 4-H programs to “show” at the Morrow County fair. Jack learned welding from watching his dad and would use that at his first job.

While in the 8th grade Jack and his dad were returning home from his basketball practice when they were involved in a serious car accident. Jack suffered a serious concussion that caused reoccurring severe migraines. He was under doctor’s care for the next four years and was not allowed to participate in any sports. Jack graduated from Northmor High School in 1965.

(Jack is proud to have earned his Eagle Scout award in 1963. His two sons and a grandson have followed this tradition. Another grandson is very close to earning his Eagle as well!)

On January 14, 1967 Jack married Judy, a young lady whom he met two years earlier through her cousin. “I got up the courage and asked her to dance, no fast dances…only slow ones!” After their wedding Jack and Judy moved into an apartment in Galion. Five months later, in June of 1967, Jack received his draft notice.

 (The Army chose not to disqualify Jack from duty even though he was still having migraines.)

He was ordered to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina for basic training. Jack had chosen to train as a mechanic in the Army but his MOS was changed to 95B, Military Police which took him next to Ft. Gordon, Georgia for specialized AIT training. 

Jack was granted two weeks leave home after AIT before reporting to Ft. Dix in November of 1967 where he was issued  jungle fatigues, placed on a plane at McGuire AFB, with his next stop being Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam.

After joining his unit, the 199th LIB, (Light Infantry Battalion), HQ Company, MP Platoon, Jack’s initial duties as an MP were providing security at a small “field” POW compound that temporarily housed captured VC and possible enemy sympathizers. On Christmas Eve of 1967, after five weeks of “boring, monotonous” duty, the 199th moved north of Long Binh, setting up at Camp Frenzell-Jones. (Named in memory of the first two 199th soldiers KIA in Vietnam.) This would be home for Jack through January of 1969, right in the thick of the Tet Offensive.

The camp had a larger POW compound that was patrolled by MP’s. The MP’s also had the responsibility to attach to infantry units sent out on missions into areas around the camp. Any prisoners taken captive by the infantry in the field were turned over to the MP’s to escort back to base camp. 

Jack gained a reputation, (that served him well), as being able to procure almost anything requested but not available through normal Army supply channels. His favorite “acquisition” occurred when Jack was trying to obtain several truckloads of gravel to cover a pathway into the POW compound, that during monsoon season was usually ankle-deep mud. When his request was initially denied, Jack took advantage of the arrival of a Major and his E-6 adjutant, who wondered if Jack had any “access” to five gallons of orange paint. Jack’s response was to put on a sharp new “shiny” uniform, check out a jeep and head to Bien Hoa Air Base where he “just happened” to have “connections” with an unnamed Air Force “full bird” Colonel. 

Bottom line, after negotiations, on a frontage road just outside of the base, an exchange was made swapping five gallons of orange Air Force paint for a case of warm Army poncho liners, (not normally available to Air Force personnel.) Amazingly, that afternoon, the paint was traded to the Major for an order of “several loads of stone and gravel.” (See picture of the finished project!)

Jack elected to stay in Vietnam for 14 ½ months instead of 12, in order to qualify for an “early out.” He arrived at the Oakland Out-processing Center on January 19, 1969 and was honorably discharged as an E-5 Sergeant on the 20th.

Returning to Ohio, Jack accepted a job in 1969 with Atlas Crankshaft in Fostoria beginning first as a “pin grinder”, working up to a gear lathe operator and finally becoming a machine repairman. After 30 years and 8 months of working at Atlas Jack retired on January 31st, 2000. Not ready to sit around, Jack joined Jeep working as a machine repairman and on the assembly line for just over 11 years, finally punching his last timecard on October 31st, 2012.

Jack and Judy are the proud parents of three children, Kevin, Jennifer and Chad. All three are successful in their fields of work and have seven grandbabies for Jack and Judy to be grandparents to. Their family home from 1972 to 2017 was in the small community of Bloomdale, located in Wood County, Ohio. Health issues were a deciding factor to downsize their home and move to Findlay.

Jack and Judy are “snowbirds” spending three plus months each year in warm Winter Haven, Florida. While there, Jack can be often be found at Lake Henry, fishing for bass, black crappie, catfish and the occasional alligator gar. Jack and Judy also pass the time playing cards, card bingo and eating southern cuisine.

Jack is proud of his military service and is a life member of the VVA 440, AmVets 69 of Fostoria and the DAV 43 in Findlay. He is also a charter member of the Findlay Military Association that puts on the military show each May at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.