- From an eMail received on
name is Terry Rushbrook and I joined the Army on 15 Mar 66, after
graduating from Willow Glen High School in San Jose, California. I had
gone to one semester at San Jose City College, but was restless and
bored. My best friend, Chris Taylor, convinced me to go see the Marine
recruiter, but they didn't offer much besides their strange brand of
espirit de corps, pebble crunching and bullet stopping. I wanted
more than that. I went to the Army recruiter on my own and ended up
signing on for four years with the promise of training for the Army
After basic training at Fort Ord, California, I was sent to Fort Gordon,
Georgia's Southeast Signal School, and trained as a Teletype
Repairman. I got my PFC stripe there. We were all thoroughly tested with
a barrage of standard exams. My results must have been pretty good
because they came to me and offered me the chance to go to Signal Corps
Officer Candidate School. I had learned very quickly that if I had the
chance to go through my time being more than the average grunt, I should
take it. After I graduated from Teletype Repair and got my Top Secret
security clearance, I took 30 days leave before coming back to Fort
Gordon for OCS. In all, I spent about 13 months at Fort Gordon, the
armpit of the South.
I was commissioned in May, 1967, two days after my twentieth birthday,
and got orders for France. While on leave, they had rescinded my orders
because DeGaulle had kicked us out of France. My new orders assigned me
to the 143rd Signal Battalion in Frankfurt, Germany. I showed up at my
new commanding officer's office as a brand spankin' new second
lieutenant, ready to put my vast Signal Corps training to good use. Lt
Col Wason interviewed me and, after asking me about my interests and
hobbies, assigned me to the position of Battalion Motor Officer! I guess
it was my mistake telling him I grew up in California and loved working
I finally got away from the motor pool and became the Platoon Leader for
1st Platoon, the platoon supporting the headquarters of the Third
Armored Division. I made First Lieutenant in that position and watched
my buddies get orders for Viet Nam. Here I was, playing war on maneuvers
with the 3rd Armored while our men and equipment were being diverted to
Viet Nam. During a moment of insanity, I volunteered for Viet Nam. My
warped thinking was that if there was real action there, I should be
there instead of playing where I was safe and sound in Germany. Besides,
the 3rd Armored Division was constantly on maneuvers and my platoon was
so depleted I was the only relief for my guys. On any field exercise of
three days or less, I didn't get any sleep because I had to run the
switchboard or radio or teletype rigs while my guys got some rest.
After leave in San Jose, California, I flew into Bien Hoa, Viet Nam. The
sick cadre there made it as traumatic an experience as possible. We were
transported from the plane to the terminal in camo buses with wire mesh
over the windows and were regaled with warnings of our imminent demise
and made to keep our heads down from the plane to the terminal. The
only bright spot in my day was when I ran into Paul Patch, an older
classman at New Lebanon Central School in New Lebanon, New York. He
helped to calm my nerves when he saw how upset I was. These guys
delighted in scaring the crap out of newbies.
After processing, I somehow got to Cam Rahn Bay (I can't remember now)
and checked into the headquarters of the 41st Signal battalion. As an
officer, I was usually on my own. The enlisted men were herded in groups
and their movements orchestrated; we were thought to have enough savvy
to make it on our own to wherever we had to go.
I got settled into the "Bachelor Officer's Quarters" with my roommate,
Bob Lane, a surfer dude from Southern Cal. The BOQ's were two story
plywood shacks with a multi hole plywood latrine outside. The latrine
was uniquely constructed with hinged panels on the back where cut-off 50
gallon drums were slid in under the holes. There were even toilet seats
on the holes! The next morning, I awoke to the pungent odor of
burning diesel fuel mixed with some other smell. I looked out to see
they had dragged out the barrels of crap and poured diesel fuels into
them and set them ablaze. The rich black smoke filled the air for
hours. Funny thing; when I went to use the latrine, there were
footprints ON the toilet seats! The gooks were so used to squatting
that they stood on the seats and then squatted in their classic position
to take a dump.
I met with the Battalion Commander that day and told him of my extensive
Signal Corps training and experience as a former Teletype Repairman to
Signal Corps OCS to Platoon Leader in support of 3rd Armored Division
Headquarters to Top Secret Courier Ops. He promptly assigned me as the
Battalion Motor Officer! Not bad duty in Cam Rahn Bay. The only thing
was, I, as the Battalion Motor Officer, did not have a Jeep! The
previous one had been stolen or something and I had no ride. One of the
mechanics, who was the epitome of the phrase 'grease monkey', took a
liking to me and told me that if I wanted a Jeep, he'd get me one. I
said sure, I'd like one, figuring he could requisition one through
channels. The next morning there was a freshly painted and detailed
Jeep, complete with Battalion lettering, waiting for me. This guy and
other volunteers had been up all night. They "procured" a Jeep, brought
it to the motor pool, cleaned it topside and bottom, and painted it with
their own proprietary blend of OD and black enamels. It looked sharp!
It had fresh stenciled lettering and was equipped with an ignition key
instead of the standard lever switch.
Once again, I complained to my CO about having all this Signal
experience, but being assigned as a Motor Officer, so I was transferred
to Qui Nhon to head up the 362nd Signal Company's Tropospheric radio
site on remote Vungchua mountain. I had about 50 guys working for me
there, plus a couple civilian radio advisors from Collins radio. I got
there just after Tet, when two guys had been killed by VC running
through the compound and tossing satchel charges into the hootches. We
spent a lot of time beefing up the perimeter with bunkers, claymore
mines, and lights.
I'm not going to relate all my experiences in Viet Nam. Some are
painful to remember, some are classified, and others are buried so deep
they will never be revealed to anyone. Suffice it to say that it was an
experience that changed me forever.
I went back to the world on April 20, 1969. We flew in on the day when
the west coast was supposed to slip into the ocean and everyone cheered
when we saw land. It was very strange to walk back into life as it
was. No welcome, no change. I couldn't wait to get out of my uniform.
I spent the next thirty years denying and avoiding my thoughts about
Viet Nam and hiding and stuffing my feelings about it.
Catastrophic circumstances in my life in 1999 led me to a
dual-diagnostic treatment center in California where I was diagnosed
with PTSD from my service in Viet Nam, as well as treated for alcohol
and drug abuse. I wrote the poem, "Goodbye Viet Nam" that can be found
home page of my website, while in the treatment center. It took two
days of sweat and tears.
I applied for a disability from the VA upon the advice of counselors at
the treatment center and it took SIX YEARS to get it. I went through
numerous appeals and reviews and trips to Boston. It finally came
through in 2005 after advisors and counselors had given up on it and
abandoned me to pursue it on my own.
Today, I still have symptoms of PTSD, but I can talk about it and carry
on a somewhat normal life. I can acknowledge my veteran status instead
of being ashamed of it and hiding it.
I have been clean and sober since April 29, 1999, and stay active in the
fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I find that it also helps me with my
Terry maintains his own website, where he posts stories of his time in
Vietnam, poetry, and pictures from that period. Below are a few pictures from
his personal Photo Album, which can be found on his website. We
encourage you to visit it and enjoy the archive he has created there. To
visit his website, click the icon at right, below.
To see larger versions of these pictures, click each picture below.
Lt. Terry Rushbrook
Cam Ranh Bay
Tropospheric Scatter Dishes
To View Terry's personal website and see more pics
from his photo album, click
To view Terry's listing in the International War Veterans' Poetry
Archive, click here: