By Larry Droessler, Carl Friederick, and E.S. Kaiser
The background is the world’s largest “M”, an iconic symbol of the mining tradition and the history of the University of Wisconsin Platteville. The Platte mound “M” was developed using whitewashed stones.
1958 John Deere 420: Larry Droessler, US Navy, served aboard the USS Mahon (DLG-11) Tonkin Gulf, Republic of Vietnam service.
I had just graduated High School and was free as a bird doing what I love to do, Farm. Young enough 18 years old then and still had time to party with friends at night, played in a band most weekends, and still had the ambition to work hard on the farm all day. I was in the barn one day about finished with the morning milking of our herd of cows and my sister came up to me and said Mom has a letter she wants to show me when I come in for breakfast. When I got into the house and sat down to eat my breakfast I could tell right away that my Mother was very nervous about something, and then she showed me the letter that I had received that said I was to be drafted into the armed services.
I figured my future was somewhat planned out for being a very young man at the time, and Bang, overnight things had changed big time. I didn’t have much choice because at the time rumor had it that I couldn’t get a farm deferment because I had brothers that also helped on the farm.
After much thought in the short notice that I received even though I hated to give up my farming and future life dreams, I decided not to look into the deferment option any deeper. My Father said he always wished he could have passed the test when drafted in World War II but they didn’t take him because of his flat feet. All other thoughts put aside, I decided to join the U.S.Navy, following the footsteps of my two uncles who served in World War II, one uncle was at the Pearl Harbor bombing.
I then received notice that I should report to boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois. Boot camp was somewhat a breeze, a challenge but because I was fresh off the farm the tough physical activity was no problem for me.
I was not in California too long and off I go to Vietnam. The first night we arrived there I was on the midnight watch. At first site you would have sworn we were at the largest 4th of July fireworks ever, but after coming to your senses you knew this stuff was for real. Don’t have the time right now, nor do I want to get into the Vietnam war issues any deeper, but I can tell you that it is one way for a young man to grow up quick.
1958 Famall 450: Carl Friederick, US Army, Combat Engineers, Armored Personnel Carrier Division, Republic of Vietnam service.
I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I was the youngest of six brothers and 2 sisters. We lost my one sister at the age of 3. I went to a rural country school. There were only 12 students in the school from first grade to eighth grade. The name of our school was Salem School which was about two miles from home, and I had to walk year around no matter what the weather. Of course, it was uphill all the way from home and to school!
I started at a Catholic High School and wasn’t going to be able to graduate because I failed religion class. My Dad couldn’t let me go to Summer school because I had to stay home to make hay.
At the end of that Summer, I enlisted in the Army and was promised I would not be sent to Vietnam. I chose to go to France. Unfortunately, DeGaul, President of France, kicked the USA out of his country. I then had a choice to go to a very nice country or home. I was so homesick I chose home. With that choice, I lost my promise of not going to Vietnam. After 30 days of leave, I was sent to Virginia and got jungle warfare training which was bad as the country itself. After twelve months in Vietnam, I finished my tour in the U.S. After I was discharged I started a gas station and got married. From the gas station, I added a few odd jobs and then was an antique dealer. That job lasted for the next 40 years.
From 1965 til today Vietnam is still with me physically and mentally (and so is my wife of 52 years) who has suffered with me. I am now retired and doing small odd jobs living the big life.
1970 Massey Ferguson 135: E.S. Kaiser, US Navy served aboard the USS Mars (AFS-1) Hai Phong Harbor, North Vietnam, and Tonkin Gulf, Yankee Station, Republic of Vietnam service.
I grew up in SW Wisconsin on a dairy farm caring for dairy cattle, hogs, and chickens. In addition to livestock chores, we tilled and spring-planted oats and corn and harvested the crops in the summer and fall. Our machinery consisted of a Ferguson TO 30, Minneapolis Moline Z, and Farmall 460. I still remember the day my dad purchased the 1958 Farmall, with a mounted 2-row corn picker. He purchased the tractor and corn picker from an implement dealer in Potosi, Wisconsin. He drove the tractor and picker home and parked them in the yard. As a small boy in excitement I ran out and climbed up the ladder and sat in the seat, and amazed as I stared at the gold and silver IH monogram underlined with power steering.
At the young age of 9 years, I began plowing fields with the Ferguson TO30. I cultivated with the Minneapolis Moline Z and picked corn later with Farmall 460, as well as all of the maintenance duties required to be performed on the equipment.
To this day we still have all 3 tractors on the home farm in SW Wisconsin. These tractors require maintenance, and it is comforting to know that I can get parts from Steiner Tractor Parts, which I have done over the years. Lynn, in special orders, was very helpful with a part for the Farmall 460 years ago.
During the years 1959 to 1975, the Vietnam War raged in SE Asia, I had 3 older brothers who enlisted in the Armed Forces and shipped out to Vietnam. I graduated from high school, enlisted in the US Navy, and went to boot camp in San Diego, California. While in boot camp I volunteered for duty in Vietnam and was assigned to a combat supply ship named USS Mars (AFS-1). The ship was homeported in the Far East, and the assignment was for a 3-year tour of duty in SE Asia, Vietnam. For the next 3 years, I answered the call of duty, with combat supply missions performed in Hai Phong Harbor, North Vietnam, and combat supply missions performed in the Tonkin Gulf, Yankee Station, of South Vietnam.
I completed my tour of duty to Vietnam and returned home, and enrolled in college at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. I graduated with a degree in Industrial Safety while putting myself through college with the GI Bill. After college, I received a commission in the US Army and went back on active duty. I spent a 1-year hardship tour to Johnston Island, in the Pacific Ocean, destroying chemical weapons left over from the Cold War. In addition, I completed a tour of duty to Operation Desert Storm, Doha, Kuwait, collecting air samples from the oil well fires in the desert.
I retired with 30 years of service in the US Navy and the US Army. I am a sick and disabled Vietnam Veteran due to exposure to Agent Orange.