Name: Bill Hougesen
Period of Service: Nov. 1968- Sept. 1971
Occupation: Lowest rank since he joined at 18.
Deployment Locations: Missouri, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Vietnam during the war.
What made you join the military?
“I had some growing up to do,” Hougesen said.
The military had a way of shaping people up very quickly. People learn to follow orders and really how to put their life together.
What impact has your service had on you?
“It has made me a more serious person, and appreciate what this country has given us all,” stated Hougesen.
He felt that going to Vietnam was an eye-opener into how backward a country can be, and he was able to really appreciate coming home, and coming home to what he felt like was a “real world,” since Vietnam felt like an alternate universe.
What is your best memory, or most memorable experience while serving?
Hougesen flew a commercial airline to get to Vietnam, which was a very odd thing. As they were in the air, the captain said as calmly as can be, that the original planned landing location was under attack and that they needed to reroute to another location. It wasn’t really until that point that Hougesen realized that half of the people on the flight with him to Vietnam, may not be on the flight back. As they were about to land, once again the captain came over head and calm as can be, stated that there would be military vehicles waiting to pick them up to take them to base camp. As they landed, these vehicles came in plain sight, and so did a huge group of military men. Upon getting off the plane, they were taunted by these men, the men stated that these young, mostly 18 year-old-men were their replacements, and good luck. At this point, Hougesen had not slept for over 30 hours, and when he finally got to base camp and hit the bed in his tent, he was out like a light. When waking up the next morning he was greeted by the hustle and bustle outside, which confused him. He asked his commander what was going on, and his commander immediately asked him where his rifle was. Hougesen stated that he was never given one because he just got in last night. The commander then asked him where he had been the night before, to which Hougesen responded that he had been sound asleep. The commander then told Hougesen that last night the camp was under attack and they almost got run over, and at this point, 18 year-old Hougesen realized that he had slept through his first military battle, and he was lucky to have been alive.