Archived Story

Jenkins recalls tour in Vietnam

Published 10:01am Monday, November 11, 2013

Alonzo Jenkins spent over a year fighting in Vietnam — a war that wasn’t exactly popular with the consensus — and was welcomed home in a rather unconventional way.

“We were treated badly, especially in big cities,” he said. “We were treated like criminals.”

Jenkins was in the Army for 19 and a half months, all but five months of that was in hot, humid and soggy Vietnam. After spending five months as a member of the 25th Infantry Division. Jenkins transferred to the 101st Airborne Division, also known as the “Screaming Eagles.”

Jenkins, 63, filled artillery while doing his tour and he remembers the havoc caused by monsoon season, which lasted from November to February.

“It rained constantly for four months,” he said. “Sometimes it was just misty, but it was still constant. Everything we touched was wet. Our clothes stayed wet and we could not keep our feet dry. It was really tough to deal with.”

When Jenkins returned to the United States, he remembers landing in Seattle, which was a brief stop before being bussed to Fort Lewis.

“When we landed we couldn’t even go through the terminal,” he recalls. “We sat out on the tarmac and busses were brought out to us. There was probably a 30-foot long stretch of chain link fence with people standing behind it and they were holding protest signs and throwing eggs and tomatoes at us. It was kind of aggravating.”

Jenkins says outside of the large cities people were indifferent about his tour in Vietnam.

Three days before shipping out Jenkins did something that has lasted for 44 years — he got married.

“We were planning on getting married anyway,” he said. “When I got my draft papers, we decided to go ahead and do it.”

Jenkins and his wife, Goldie, have two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He worked at Dayton Malleable and a cement plant after returning home, but ultimately retired from Osco Industries in Portsmouth.

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