Thursday, August 28, 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

 
Locke an unparalleled universe in the Delta

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Small-town heroism on display in Napa

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
 
Review set for Vacaville fitness center suit

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield motorcyclist hurt in Beck Avenue crash

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Logue misses meet with Libertarians in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Chamber event looks at health care law

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Winterhawk Winery up for auction

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

.

US / World

Boy hurt in California quake: ‘I should be dead’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lawmakers approve groundwater management bill

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

California sets ride-sharing insurance standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Feds allow logging after huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California beach town sees flooding from hurricane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California Senate passes gun restraining order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US to consider spousal abuse in immigration claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
UK sex abuse report prompts outrage, reflection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Q&A: Few laws govern children at shooting range

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Mom pleads for release of captive US journalist

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Israeli premier, Hamas declare victory in Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Q-and-A on Westerners who join the fight in Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sources: US considering new relief mission in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Shooting by 9-year-old girl stirs debate over guns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
.

Opinion

Let’s improve entertainment control units

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

 
Seizing the day with old friends

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

Signs of possible healing in Ferguson

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Poor constituent service no longer acceptable

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 28, 2014

By Kim Durbin | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My boss insists that we all eat lunch with her in cafeteria

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Chris Soules is ABC’s new ‘Bachelor’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

John Lennon’s killer sorry for being ‘an idiot’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Reality star accused of rape, child molestation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Source: BET suspends producer after Blue Ivy joke

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Judge lets ‘X-Men’ director’s accuser drop lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Rapper Young Jeezy pleads not guilty to gun charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Cops’ crew member killed in Omaha police shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Maria Sharapova comes through in 3 sets at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr to start vs. Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fuld’s homer in 9th lifts A’s over Astros 5-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Posey hits game-ending 2-run homer for Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Keenum, Savage to settle Texans’ backup QB duel vs. 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

USC’s Shaw admits to lying about injuries, rescue

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
IndyCar sets April 12 New Orleans date

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

No. 23 UNC suspends 4 players for opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Clippers sign Doc Rivers to 5-year extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cal needs more from its running game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s Kevin Hogan a ‘stabilizing agent’ at QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Chicago’s Little League champs return as heroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
NFL suspends Browns star WR Gordon for 2014 season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders hope rebuild pays immediate dividends

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
After trio of near misses, 49ers chase Super Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

US economy forecast to grow by 1.5 percent in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Reports: FBI probes JPMorgan hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Time Warner Cable says outages largely resolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Video games come of age as spectator sport

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Malaysia Airlines set for shakeup after disasters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
IMF chief Lagarde under investigation in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

SEC adopts rules on loan-backed securities

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Stocks drift higher; S&P 500 holds on to 2,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Gary Allen Person

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Fernanda Dee Villarosa

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Herman P. Sorensen

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lyle R.C. Cullum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Frank W. Moy Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9