By Ms. Tiffany D Wood (Leonard Wood)August 6, 2015
About a week ago, I received a phone call I can't quite forget.
It was a call from a Vietnam veteran who choked up while talking about his old unit, the 560th Military Police Company.
Mr. Donn Elmore called my office to ask if we could shoot and mail him a photo of a plaque his grandson, who is attending military police one-station-unit training at Fort Leonard Wood, saw in front of a UH-1B helicopter. The helicopter is displayed front and center among a dozen other military vehicles as part of the John B. Mahaffey Museum.
The plaque that accompanies the UH-1B depicts the story of the Soldiers with the 560th Military Police Company who volunteered to serve as door gunners on the helicopters for the 114th Aviation Company from 1963 through 1966.
According to the plaque, Brig. Gen. Joseph Stillwell, U.S. Army Support Group-Vietnam commanding general, requested 40 volunteer door gunners from the 560th MP Co.; the request was answered by more than 70 percent of the company's Soldiers volunteering for duty.
According to Mr. Elmore, he was one of those Soldiers. The photo of the plaque, he said, would be displayed in his office as a reminder of his service during that time.
When Mr. Elmore received the photos, he sent me the following email:
"Today I received the copies of the plaque that you went out of your way to help me with.
I can't say 'thank you' enough, as this is very important to me, especially something to remember part of my youth, as I was 19 years old when I was in Vietnam.
I have enclosed a couple of photos of myself from that time. If you look close at the photo in my class A uniform, above the ribbon on my left pocket, you will see the Gunner Wings that we were issued and authorized to wear. They are a set of wings with a 'G' in the center.
For a short while in Saigon, I rode on joint-police patrol, which consisted of one MP, one AFMP, one Vietnamese MP and one Vietnamese civilian policeman, which enabled each patrol to have authority over anyone we had to deal with. I was assigned to a specific helicopter, and anytime that helicopter drew a mission, I went. On a few occasions I was on joint patrol and was dispatched to the flightline and immediately left on a mission.
It was definitely different to see me hanging out of the door in a firefight wearing class A's, while everybody else were wearing fatigues.
Once again I want to thank you for your assistance in this matter, and I hope you have a blessed day."
As I read his email, I got a little teary eyed and a bit choked up myself, as I finally realized why I couldn't stop thinking about my phone call with Mr. Elmore. His phone call made me proud -- proud of my job -- proud of our armed forces -- and proud of Mr. Donn Elmore and others who have served our country with honor and distinction.
So Mr. Elmore, if you are reading this from Hernando, Mississippi, today, thank you for calling.