TOPEKA (KSNT) – Serving overseas during the Tet Offensive, Army Specialist 4th Class Reuben Sullivan pushed through whatever challenges the war threw his way to support his fellow soldiers.
With the conflict ramping up in Vietnam, Sullivan was called upon to join the fight.
“Early in the 60’s for the Vietnam War there was a draft,” Sullivan said. “I was just turning 18, my numbers came up so I got drafted and spent 2 years in the service, 1 year in Vietnam.”
That year overseas came sooner than Sullivan’s unit was expecting.
“We hadn’t even learned how to break down a weapon and not being around weapons very often,” he said. “You really wanted to know more about what was going on before you got thrown into a war.”
Sullivan’s welcome was even more intense than his unit could have imagined.
“Here I am coming down, and I thought man fourth of July, what, no, what’s going on here?” Sullivan said, “Realizing you know, that it’s firefights all over the country was lit up.
The Specialist started off overseas as a Combat Engineer, until switching to an ammunitions specialist.
“We deployed ammunition all over Vietnam,” Sullivan said. “I sometimes had to travel and take it to places, but most of the time we were back at base loading or getting ammo to the fire fights that were going on.”
Through his time there, Sullivan learned a handful of crucial lessons.
“The existence of being over there was to rely on your fellow man,” he said. “It was a very pivotal role, you learned to trust, you learned people immediately, you learned who not to trust. I’ve always said one of the things I gained out of the war was being able to read people a lot better.”
After returning from Vietnam, Reuben looked for ways to give back to his community. He’s done so by coaching local sports, redoing the hometown park, adding a military honor garden, and holding ceremonies for those that have also served in his local area.