Local vet: ‘They didn’t forget me’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On the far right, newly medaled Jack Ammons of Andalusia talks with Hugh Stinson and David Morrow at Monday’s Veterans Day celebration.

On the far right, newly medaled Jack Ammons of Andalusia talks with Hugh Stinson and David Morrow at Monday’s Veterans Day celebration.

“Forty-seven years ago, nearly to the day, and it was nice to know they didn’t forget me,” is what Andalusia’s Jack Ammons said when it was discovered he’d been awarded two Bronze Stars and a host of other military accommodations for his time in Vietnam.

Ammons said his son, Jeffery Wayne Ammons, recently retired after 22 years in the Army. A two-time Bronze Star recipient himself, the younger Ammons was quizzing his father about his military record, specifically about the medals he’d earned while serving from November 1963 until October 1966 as a field communication officer.

“He wanted to look at my records,” Ammons said of his son. “He asked me about the good conduct medal, if it showed up on my exit of the army. He said, ‘Did you get it?’ I said no not to my knowledge. If I did, the Army did, they sent it to mom and dad in Red Level.”

The Army’s GSM is awarded on a selective basis for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity in active Federal military service.

A quick trip to the local Veterans Service Office, and the paperwork was submitted to get Ammons a new medal. What he didn’t expect was the news that his service had earned him a much greater honor – two Bronze Stars and three Republic of Vietnam medals including a Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation and a Civil Actions Honor Medal First Class Unit Citation.

“It was a total shock to me,” Ammons said of the honors. “It’s kind of neat that after 47 years, nearly to the date, they didn’t forget what we did over there.”

Ammons said he can recall the two specific instances that earned him recognition.

“We were in the thick of the combat,” Ammons said of his arrival in Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, and the 25th Infantry Division. “They dumped us off to go to the base camp, and at that time, we were trying to go out and establish ourselves and take back some of the territory that the Viet Cong had taken. We were thrust right in the middle of war.

“A gung-ho kind of guy, I volunteered right off,” he said. “That mission was 12 straight days in the jungle. The second time was another two-week mission. They were search and destroy missions, but I was just doing my job.”
When the war came to an end, Ammons found himself in Oakland, Calif., for processing.

“That was the time when the protests were starting heavily and we were right there in the hot bed,” he said. “It was in one door and out the other. What normally took two days, they did it in six hours. They were doing it to shield us from the junk that was going on.”
Ammons said he knows that’s the reason his accommodations fell through the crack.

“But that’s OK,” he said. “It’s fixed now. My son, he’s just ecstatic. He said, ‘Dad, you deserve it.’”