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Subject: Promotions in Viet Nam

Bill Bellinger
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Date Posted: 07:38:27 05/13/05 Fri

Promotions came fast in Viet Nam. All a soldier had to do was do his job and keep his nose clean. It was not unusual for a soldier to go from E-1 to E-5 with less than two years of service. First Lieutenants were offered their Captains bars after two years if they’d ‘ship over’ for another 1-year tour in Viet Nam. During my last six months in Viet Nam, in 1967, I spent a lot of time writing performance evaluations and promotion recommendations for everyone in my platoon who was eligible for promotion. We had a 100% success rate in getting all that done. This was mainly due to the efforts of the 85th Maintenance Company’s Top Sergeant, First Sergeant Rigas. Sgt. Rigas was a first rate Top Sergeant. The 85th Maintenance Company mail clerk, Sp4 Limerick, was assigned to my platoon, even though he worked for Top. When I told Limerick he was up for promotion to Sergeant, E-5, he said he didn’t want any promotion, he just wanted to go home. I told him too bad, we are going to do it anyway. And sure enough about 2 or 3 weeks before Limerick left to go home he was promoted to Sergeant. He was very quick to sew his Sergeant stripes on his uniform. The day he left to go home he was decked out in his khakis, with his ribbons on and his new stripes on his sleeve. He was one happy soldier smiling like a Cheshire cat. Happy to be going home, but I believe he was also happy to be going home a Sergeant. Now when his grandkids ask him “What did you do in the war granddad?” he can say “I was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army!”

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