Friday, October 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Former sheriff’s deputy had intense tour in Vietnam

By
From page VET11 | November 11, 2012 |

FAIRFIELD — Six months into his first tour in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Lanny French got his draft notice.

“It really cracked the guys up,” French said.

It makes the retired Solano County sheriff’s deputy smile, since he joined the Army in 1967 “because I didn’t want to be drafted.”

Born in Torrance and a 1967 Chico State University graduate, French signed up to be an airborne ranger and got hooked up with the 173rd “because I knew a little bit about it and I knew it was an elite unit.”

French arrived in Vietnam through Ben Hoa on Oct. 10, 1967, a little over two years after the 173rd became the first major Army combat unit to deploy to the Southeast Asian country.

“Gen. (William) Westmoreland called us his fire brigade. We fought in every area but the (Mekong) delta,” French said.

He started out as a replacement, serving as an ammunition bearer for a M-60 machine-gun team. It was also the time when the 173rd got involved in a series of fierce battles against the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong in the Central Highlands around Dak To.

French’s unit, C Company, 2nd Batt., 503rd Infantry, was sent into the fight for Hill 875 in November 1967, which the NVA had spent considerable time fortifying.

It was French’s first fight and he spent four days assaulting NVA trench lines in the battle that cost the 173rd one-fourth of its strength. On the fourth day, French’s luck ran out and he took an AK-47 round through the left leg.

He also still carries a small piece of shrapnel in his cheek from the bomb dropped by the Marine aircraft that wounded him and killed several other 173rd soldiers.

“I was scared, but I did my job. It was bad times, very bad times,” French said.

After a stint recovering in a hospital in Qui Nhon, French checked himself out and hitchhiked back to the 173rd in time for the January 1968 Tet Offensive, which had French in Kontum defending a district headquarters from being overrun by the Viet Cong.

He extended his tour twice. He first got reassigned to the 74th Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol detachment and then to the 173rd’s Ranger company.

When French wrote home asking his family to send clothing to help cloth Vietnamese refugees, the request got in the newspaper and French got a call from his sergeant demanding he get rid of the 800 pounds of clothing that showed up at the unit.

French and a couple of his friends drove all the clothing to a nearby bridge, where they spent the day handing it out to any Vietnamese that crossed the bridge.

He wryly notes that the bridge had been a favorite target for VC mortar teams, but after the big clothing giveaway, the bridge ceased getting mortared.

Later, French’s outfit was equipped first with armed jeeps and then with heavier vehicles in the form of M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers. French said riding on them sure beat “humping it around.” They also received Sheridan tanks, which French called “a piece of junk.”

French said the unit used its considerable firepower conducting sweeps, convoy duty and search-and-destroy missions wherever they were needed.

Most of the time, the VC and NVA didn’t engage the soldiers, but when they did, “we did a pretty good number on them.”

One of the roadside ambushes was sprung on French when they were on their way to a Bob Hope show. An AK-47 round shattered the camera that French had strapped across his chest before the 173rd soldiers fought the VC ambushers off.

“I really liked that camera,” French said.

One of French’s more unusual mementoes from that time is a British Webley revolver he took off a 40-year-old NVA officer named Vo Sach, who French and the 173rd soldiers captured.

On taking the grip off the revolver later, French found a rolled up Chieu Hoi pamphlet, which were dropped in great numbers all over Vietnam to convince VC and NVA to surrender.

“It seemed he (the NVA officer) was covering his bets,” French said.

French wrapped up his time in Vietnam in March 1970 as a sergeant, coming back through McChord Air Force Base, Wash., and switching to the Ready Reserve for three years before completely hanging up his uniform.

He spent the next year working for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection fighting fire in a helitack crew all over Northern California.

French then was hired by former Solano County Sheriff Al Cardoza as a deputy sheriff, where he served for 25 years before retiring.

“I was a very lucky man to be assigned to the 173rd,” said French.

He also recently revisited where he served in Vietnam, which he described as “a very beautiful country without the wars and I liked the people.”

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com.ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
 
‘The Rocky Horror Show’ finds a home on stage

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

For sale: Solano home with Nike missile bunkers

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
Salvation Army debuts giant kettle for holidays campaign

By Robinson Kuntz | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Suisun City police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

New survey details vast scope of teen dating abuse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Boosters seek to keep Bay Bridge light display

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Brown opens up spending in campaign’s final month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Driver attacked after ice cream truck kills boy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 8 Comments | Gallery

$50,000 reward to find killer of Anaheim girl, 9

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Video shows bikers taunting California officer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 5 Comments

California man guilty in wife’s stabbing death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
US tech firm fined for underpaying Indian workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Suspect in girl’s 1984 killing was police employee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PTSD argued in case of Marine jailed in Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 7 Comments | Gallery

Paintings in national parks spark probe, furor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
For teen with passport, Syria trip can be seamless

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Border deaths drop to 15-year low

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

 
Prisoner in Afghanistan to be tried in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

US, SKorea agree to delay wartime control transfer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US officials: Iraqi army regrouping slowly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Gary killings put spotlight on abandoned buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Lawmakers seek to end benefits to former Nazis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

NK experts: US must apologize to free detainees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola: A crash course in fear and how it hurts us

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 4 Comments

Cremation fears leave empty Ebola beds in Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Ex-Mountie hero of shooting at Canada’s Parliament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Canada gunman wanted a passport to go to Mideast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NYC mayor: Don’t be alarmed by doctor’s Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NY doctor back from Guinea has Ebola, 1st in city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Planning Commission not listening to the people

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 14 Comments

Not sure I trust government on Ebola

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
Is America prepared for Ebola or is threat overhyped?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Oct. 24-30, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘John Wick’ delivers non-stop action

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Entertainment calendar Oct. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
Burns’ series gives PBS a ratings milestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Q&A: Mick Jagger, the film producer, heads to work

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

 
At 1-all, World Series moves to quirky Giants park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Giants’ Hudson to face Royals’ Guthrie in Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
College notebook: Cordes chosen to try out for USA national team

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Homecoming still on but no game for VCS

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Compton among PGA leaders at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Judge questions $75M NCAA concussion settlement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Arizona men near-unanimous pick by media to win Pac-12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Raiders may lose Woodley to biceps injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

No. 6 Oregon looks to extend streak against Cal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
The Write Way: KC coach’s lineup cards are artful

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Prep football capsules: Week 8

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Manning, Sanders lead Broncos past Chargers, 35-21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Honda Fit becomes even more intriguing small car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Letting your car find a spot and park itself

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2, 1 Comment | Gallery

Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, Beijing students cheer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

A blue Christmas for Amazon?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9