Branch: ARMY
Rate: O05
Rank: LT COL
MOS: 2162
MOS Title: Operations & Training Staff Officer (G3, S3)
Entered: 520617
Discharged: 710531
Service Number:

Ken Waalkes 3

Ken Waalkes 2

Sehr frühes Vietnam Zippo von Adrian K “Ken” Waalkes des Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam (MAAG – Vietnam)


Mail von John Waalkes vom 15.03.2018

Hi Rolf,

I remember the one time that he went to Vietnam (the 1962 period as shown on the lighter). My sisters, who are a few years older than me, would remember more. Unfortunately, dad passed away in 2009. He would have gotten a kick out of this. :)

I'll call up my sisters and ask for their memories and see if I can get them to send me some photos from Vietnam as well.

I can tell you this much, Dad was drafted for the Korean war, and went to a local school where they were inducting the new recruits. Dad was headed towards the Naval recruiter, when an Army recruiter stepped out of his office and grabbed him by the elbow. My dad said that he was heading to the Navy recruiter, but the Army recruiter said, "No son, you're in the Army now".

So dad joined up with the 82nd Airborne as an enlisted man, and jumped out of planes for a living. Dad loved the Army, not so much jumping out of airplanes though. He told me of one incident where his main chute did not open, so he pulled his reserve chute. They got tangled up, and dad had to cut away one of the chutes to get them separated. I suppose I wouldn't care for jumping after that either.

His time as an enlisted man ended when one night they did a night jump, which went well. But while walking off of the field, he stepped into a gopher hole and broke his ankle. That was the end of the 82nd for him, and it would have been the end of his Army career as well except that he had a college degree, and the Army said, "We like you kid, how about becoming an officer?" So dad enrolled into OCS (Officer Candidate School) and became a First Lieutenant.

His first "command" was of a platoon of enlisted men, all black. His commander dropped him off about 500 meters from his platoon, and told dad to "go out and meet his men". The commander didn't want to get any closer. But dad really liked his guys, and the only incident he told me of was when some of his men got into a knife fight while on "leave" (a weekend off of the fort). They carried knives to defend themselves from the white locals, who would often times want to get into fights with them.

He said that he really couldn't blame them, and that they were only trying to defend themselves. But nonetheless, you carry what the Army provides, and you don't accessorize. So he had to get all of the unauthorized weapons away from his men, and he did what any savvy, but green, First Lieutenant does, his ordered his First Sargent to go and get them. Wise man...

Vietnam years (as remembered by me):

Dad was originally supposed to go out and get with the advisers in the field, but because of his organizational skills he was assigned to the staff. His replacement ended up being killed, and they didn't have a good way at that time of preserving the bodies for sending them home for burial. So dad being the son of a butcher, went to a local butcher and begged him to store the body in the freezer until a coffin (no body bags as of yet) could arrive for sending the soldier home.

He was also there for the '62 attack on the palace, and he was living pretty close to the palace when it happened. He and the others hunkered down while the palace was being strafed. He said that he could hear the empty shell casings hit the street outside during the attack. No Americans were directly harmed in the attack, but one guy was killed when while watching the fight, he backed off of the roof he was watching it from and fell to his death.

He also told me that he made trips to both Laos and Cambodia, but he smiled slyly when he told me that "I really wasn't supposed to be there.". I have no idea as to what that was about.

Take care,

John Waalkes

Adrian K Waalkes