Leif Olsen, Thomas Edison Charter School 7th Grader
Terry Bright has spent most of his life in the shadows of Cache Valley’s mountains – riding horses, fishing on the Green River, and hunting deer; however, his life story is as rapid and winding as the Green River that he loves so much.
Terry Bright served in the Vietnam War from April 1967 to April 1968. His experience is one that he will never forget. Terry says his view of life was changed and a better understanding of death occurred.
When leaders were chosen, Terry volunteered to be the squadron leader. “I did it because all the guys in my squad were from Chicago, New York, and LA. . . . they didn’t know what it meant when the birds quit singing, and the frogs quit croaking and the crickets quit cricking,” Terry said. “They had no idea what that was! I was a country bumpkin from Cache Valley, Utah. I knew what it meant.”
“We were out on patrol every day,” Terry said. “We patrolled in the day, and the Koreans patrolled at night.”
Terry guarded a 23-mile pipeline, running from the army and air force base. He served in the 226 Supply and Transportation Squadron. Before Terry was deployed, he said he thought he was the toughest guy on the block.
“I first thought I was bullet proof. When I first saw the dead bodies, my opinion changed a lot,” he said.
Three weeks into his deployment, he received his favorite companion on the job – Moe the monkey. Terry said he definitely made his year in Vietnam much easier.
“I trained him to be a scout,” Terry said. “To find booby traps and landmines, and stuff like that.”
Terry says the traps set had a wire across the ground that was connected to a grenade. The wire was wrapped around the grenade pin, so when a soldier walked across the wire it pulled the pin and the explosion killed soldiers. Terry said Moe was trained to smell the chemicals and see the wire; he saved lives.
“He is one of the reasons I am here, and all of my squad,” Terry says. “I never lost a man. It was awesome.”
Terry was one of the luckiest soldiers on his base. One night, he was stationed at a military base where he and his squad were guarding drum fields. On a night in January 1968, enemy soldiers attacked not just the base Terry was stationed, but every military base, several Vietnamese villages, and the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam.
It was called The Tet Offensive, and it was a turning point in the Vietnam War. Terry said “the NVA (North Vietnamese regular army) hit every major military base in South Vietnam at the same time. They killed the 632 Artillery Unit, who were 20-something miles north of us, and they killed every single person in there. It was about a company size . . . 200 guys”.
Although Moe was not with Terry during his guard duty, he was asleep at their tent and also made it out alive. Terry and his squad were the lone survivors on their base. After the mortar rounds, Terry remembered that his squad “went and hid like rat(s) in a bunker, me and five guys…The only 5 guys to make it out of the perimeter alive.”
“We sandbagged the gun ports closed so they couldn’t throw hand grenades in and we sandbagged the door closed and they threw a sack charge down and it blew the door down, but I hurried and sandbagged it back up,” Terry said. “Me and my five guys were the only ones that made it out alive.”
Although Terry now lives safely in the depths of Cache Valley, his story should never be forgotten. Terry is a Vietnam War veteran!