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Hometown Hero: Dave Trost returns to finish college degree more than 40 years after Vietnam

Hometown Heroes

Appleton, Wis. (WFRV) – Dave Trost was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967.

“Right before Christmas along with all of the Christmas cards, I got a letter that said, ‘Greetings,’ and it wasn’t season’s greetings,” Trost said.

At 19 years old, he had a year of college under his belt and a wife with a baby on the way.

For his Military Occupational Specialty, Trost trained as a wheeled vehicle mechanic at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and because he had a baby on the way, his trip to Vietnam was delayed.

So, Trost learned a second MOS – a typist clerk in his training company.

Then he was off to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, outside of Saigon, Vietnam.

“I left Manitowoc on a day when it was 30 degrees below zero. Forty-eight hours later I was in Vietnam, and it was 110 degrees above,” Trost recalled.

Trost was initially assigned as a mechanic, something he admitted he had no expertise in.

But he always managed to find a niche somewhere.

“So he said, ‘You’re definitely not a mechanic, but I can use you as a parts supply specialist.’ So, that’s how in less than a two-year time frame I wound up with three different MOS’s,” said Trost.

Trost was released from the Army early in 1968 for the birth of his second child.

He says he was fortunate when it came to his time serving; He made it out alive.

 “If there was such a thing to be had over there as a good duty, I had a good duty,” said Trost. “I think God had a lot to do with leading us where he wanted us to be. I felt all the while I was over there he was sitting on my shoulder,” he said.

Trost was led down another path too; Back to the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay to finish his degree after more than 40 years.

“I had told my wife years ago, I said, ‘If I don’t have my college degree before I retire, after I retire I’m going back to school and I’m going to get my Bachelor’s Degree,'” Trost said. “I just thought it’d happen earlier,” he said.

Trost went on another journey as well; Learning to accept what happened in Vietnam. Like many other veterans, he struggled to talk about his time there.

His wife Bev says it was joining several Veteran’s groups that helped Trost to open up.

“It’s still doing wonders for him and to see him be more active and be outspoken and outgoing, I think is helping his mind and everything and it helps me too,” she said. 

Trost finds solace in sharing his feelings with other vets, and educating the youth.

“First of all, it’s spending time with people that had the same experience you did, and buying into trying to educate the younger generation, and the only way you’re going to educate them is by sharing what happened and hopefully they won’t ever have to go through it,” Trost said.

Have someone you’d like to nominate for Hometown Hero? Let us know below!

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