STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Ken Pollock graduated high school in 1965 when the Vietnam War was underway. Knowing there was a strong chance he’d be sent overseas, Ken was looking for safety and protection when he went to his recruiter. He then requested to be put in a tank.
“He says, ‘you realize tanks is a combat unit, [and] you’re going to end up in Vietnam most likely.’ I said, ‘well I got a pretty good feeling no matter what I do I’m going to end up in Vietnam, so I want something with armored plates, mobility and a lot of guns.'”
After a few months of training, Ken would be sent to Vietnam with the 1st Marine division – 1st tank battalion.
“The objective of our group was not to engage, we weren’t out there to pick a fight,” said Ken. “We were out there to gather information.”
However, the north Vietnamese started to ramp up their efforts in 1968 with the Tet Offensive.
“We were told to prepare to step up our advancements to engage in firefights and that sort of thing,” he said.
That would end up happening when Ken’s group came in contact with the enemy.
“There were like 3 or 4 guys in a trench out in the open, and they started shooting at us as we advanced towards the site,” he said. “We thought, ‘this is silly, these guys are being sacrificed.'”
That’s when a flame tank in front of Ken’s gun tank went to clear a path to move forward.
“About the time he was getting ready to light up his torch, he got hit with an RPG,” said Ken.
The fight continued and Ken knew the driver in front of him needed help.
“He was hurt pretty bad and couldn’t get out of there,” said Ken. “I said, ‘lieutenant, we gotta get that guy outta there.’ He said, ‘what do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I’ll go get him.’
“[I] pulled him out of there and he was badly wounded but still alive which was a good thing,” Ken said.
His brave efforts would earn him the Bronze Star.
Ken would move up the ranks and eventually become a Sergeant. He adds that he’s fortunate to have made it back home safely, and proud to be a Marine.
“We live by the motto Semper Fidelis – which is always faithful. Faithful to God, family and the Corp – in that order,” he said.
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