Viet Nam War Veteran

Here is a candid look at Thomas Kalajian’s Viet Nam experience during a very troubling time in our country’s history.

Thomas Kalajian’s responsibilities in the U.S. Army Signal Corps included the Transportation Coordinator for I Corps quadrant, as the only enlisted position in Section S-4, headquartered in Nha Trang, Viet Nam.

After the 6 month regular course, he was awarded advanced multiplex radio equipment repair training in Ft. Monmouth, NJ and earned the rank of Specialist Fourth Class (SP-4) upon gradation with honors from the advanced radio training school.  His Military Occupational Specialty was 32E20, Fixed Plant Radio Equipment Repair.  Thomas Kalajian scored the highest in his class in Morse code and was among the highest in his GT score, which later qualified him for membership in American Mensa, Ltd.

Thomas Kalajian was awarded the Viet Nam campaign ribbon and qualified for the Sharpshooter medal on the M-16 automatic rifle, the highest level of accuracy attainable in the military.

View from Thomas Kalajian’s desk in S-4, the Transportation Coordinator for I Corps Quadrant of Viet Nam headquartered in Nha Trang, Viet Nam circa 1968. Seated at the far left back is Cpt. Thomas Tyvand, the CO of the unit. Thomas Kalajian served exclusively with commissioned officers and warrant officers.

View of Thomas Kalajian’s living quarters in hooch in Nha Trang, Viet Nam. Fan was required to cool stereo equipment in order to remain operational. His foot locker is shown in front of the open cabinet. His weapon is stored in the locker next to the door for quick access. The base at Nha Trang underwent enemy fire from rockets and mortars regularly. Thomas Kalajian has retained the Teac tape deck shown in the cabinet as a memento of his tour of duty. The red lights on the recorder indicate it is operating in “record” mode of the programming available to GIs from local and military broadcast stations. The tape recorder was also used to send taped messages to family members back to the U.S. on small 3″ tapes, some of which are shown to the left of the tuner/amplifier in the stereo cabinet.

View from the back of a “deuce and a half” (two and a half ton capacity truck) leaving the camp where Thomas Kalajian was stationed in Nha Trang. In the background are the “hooches” in which GIs lived. Sand bags are shown fortifying the area. Temperatures reached over 110 degrees during monsoon season where the humidity was nearly 100 percent.

Regular patrols were mounted for pest control and disease abatement measures, especially during monsoon, where heat and humidity were unbearable and conducive to disease.