Vietnam Personal Accounts

James M. "Mike" Ledford

A Co, 3rd Tanks, 67/68

M.O.S. 2311


I served with A Co. 3rd. Tanks from September '67 through October '68 as the ammo tech and for most of that time, I was the HQ platoon sergeant. Some of you may remember the fresh hamburger I distributed to all of the forward areas, and GySgt Woodard may remember me. (I had hair, red hair, back then!) The closest brush I had with the NVA was when "Boner", my "shotgun", and I were returning from an ammo run, and upon leaving C-1, we were driving along about 30 mph and we saw some ARVNs. I said to Boner that that was the sharpest platoon of ARVNs I had ever seen, as they were walking in spread infantry formation along the sides of the road. Then as we got into the beginning of them, we saw the pith helmets and they were NVA! Boner said, "Do you want me to shoot?" I said, hell, no! Just wave at them (there was a whole platoon of them and two of us in a truck!). We waved, they dived off the road, I stomped on the gas, and to this day I don't know if they ever shot at us. We may have been doing 50mph when we got to the other side of that stretch of road (no governors).

Later in life, I worked the Middle East for Riddick Engineering Corporation of Little Rock, Arkansas, where I still work. When I was in Kuwait in 1991, I assisted the Kuwaiti Army with EOD projects. Kuwaitis enjoy messing with people's minds, and they knew I was a Marine Vietnam Vet. They asked me to interview officers from the Vietnamese Army (NVA), who wanted to bid on clearing mines for them. I interviewed them, and one NVA colonel spoke good English. He was a bit reticent to speak with me until we established we had not personally fought each other face to face. Then he relaxed and spoke with me for about an hour. As did the other officers, via him. They had great respect for our 3rd. Tank Battalion and I will say they were real professional soldiers. I recommended them for the mine clearing job. Who knows? Maybe one of them might get careless?