174th Assault
Helicopter Company


Biography of

Bill Haupt



I was born in the old Fort Sanders Hospital, which is now located on the main campus of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. My first address was in the "Secret City," now known as Oak Ridge. My entire family worked in various plants there because nobody knew exactly what they were doing. They did know it was big, but weren't allowed to discuss anything with anyone, including their own families. My Father was serving in the Army Air Force in France when I was born.

After the war, the federal government curtailed funds and layoffs were abundant. Everyone not working directly for the Department of Energy, Police and Fire departments, or were in the Military, had to leave town. Carbide & Carbide (later Union Carbide) gained the defense contracts and their employees were allowed to live in the city and purchase their homes from the government.

My family (I was adopted) moved to a small community one mile northeast of Oak Ridge, named Solway. There I began the first grade in the Karns community and was told I had to attend the third grade at Fairview Elementary because of school districting. I attended that school through the eighth grade, when I was then promoted to Karns High School, adjacent to where I began elementary school.

I began attending the Solway Missionary Baptist Church at the age of six. I received the Lord as my personal Savior there when I was 12. I attended Church there each time the doors were open (including Vacation Bible School) until I relocated to Jacksonville, FL at the age of sixteen.

Jacksonville was an exciting city to this country boy. I was hired through my Mother's best friend the first month I arrived. I worked in a grocery store (Food Fair) for two years and four months. I graduated from Englewood HS in 1963. I traveled to the "Big Apple," Philly, and Cherry Hill that summer. I was treated to dinner and a show at the Latin Casino where the legendary Nat "King" Cole performed. He would pass-on that September.

With the depressed economy and no jobs for a non-veteran, I enlisted in the Army. My enlistment contract guaranteed me personnel school. After the physical examination at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, and signing waivers for high blood pressure and a heart murmur, I was sworn in and left for Fort Jackson, SC on a big gray dog. Most of us on that bus were teenagers from all over FL.

During basic training we received a presentation and opportunity to volunteer for the airborne. My new friends from Florida conned me into volunteering.

Basic ended and my new friends went to Fort Gordon, GA to train to become Pole Climbers, and were then assigned to Germany per their enlistment contracts. I received orders to attend personnel school at Ft Jackson.

Upon completion of personnel school I was awarded the Primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 716.10. I then received orders assigning me to Fort Benning, GA to attend the airborne course. My next assignment was the 101st Airborne Division, Ft Campbell, KY.

My new assignment was "Admin" Company. While in-processing, I was asked if I wanted to work in the pay section. This pay business was a big mystery to most young troopers. I answered yes to this opportunity.

Our mission was to be at least 98 percent accurate. Most of us exceeded that standard. During this time I was asked to fill in at the replacement company until they could get a new company clerk, as theirs had left at the end of his commitment. I worked there for two weeks for a really nice First Lieutenant and received a Letter of Commendation for this easy assignment. A few months into my new job I was offered a position in Division Finance, working in Officers Pay. I jumped at this opportunity. Our finance officer was Major Jackie A. Van Hook, an enlisted rifleman in the Korean War who wore the "Beer Can" combat patch.

When he was reassigned, he was replaced by a LTC from WV. He taught us finance courses (on the clock) at the college level. He recognized me as being quick to learn and assigned me to sit in the Chief of Pay seat (an E-8 slot). I remained there until I received orders to return to Ft. Benning in November 1965.

By then the Army had changed the MOSs and I was now a 71H1P (Personnel Specialist-Parachutist qualified). When I arrived at the 174th Aviation Company (Airmobile) (Light), PFC Mike Bovre was the Company Clerk in an E-4 slot at that time. I asked his MOS and he said 71A.10. I informed the acting First Sergeant (SFC HILL) that I was assigned as the Company Clerk.

Shortly thereafter I was placed into another office with then Captain "Buck" (later Colonel) Griffin, our Administrative Officer. "Buck" was a graduate of the Military Academy and really easy to work with.

We were assigned to the 10th Aviation Group for rations and quarters while preparing to deploy to the Republic of Vietnam. We would be there for four and one-half months. During this time we received a few allocations for Specialist E-4 promotions. I went over the E-3 list and I was far ahead on the seniority list, and Mike Bovre had enough time for promotion without a waiver. I picked the rest from the list solely by time in service, as I didn't know anyone personally or professionally. I took the list to our Commanding Officer and explained how I arrived at this selection and he said ok. I then typed up the orders on my typewriter and ran them off personally. That's the way it was done at that time.

Prior to my arrival, there was a person preparing the Morning Report (DA form 1) that didn't completely understand just how it was supposed to be done. This caused a serious misrepresentation of the personnel assigned and joined (present) to the unit. I was questioned at the Battalion level concerning our authorized strength. I told Captain Griffin I didn't know how to correct the strength section on the Morning Report. Shortly afterward my new friend, CPT Gene Teague, sat with me at my desk and corrected the strength section of the report. In our conversations, he related to me he was a Company Clerk in the 101st Airborne Division prior to his commissioning and flight school training. He is still one of my Heroes.

On the second day of our "vacation cruise" in March on the good ship Upshur, I informed SFC Hill I couldn't live in our assigned berthing, so we located a compartment and used it as an office at sea. It was Mike, Marvin Hill, and me. This is where, on the old Underwood typewriter, that Mike typed his letters home that appears on the website as the Company Clerk's Diary.

Our first port-of-call was Pearl Harbor, HI. We took on water and fuel and some of us took on some alcohol during our short stay. Before our next stop in Japan, payday had come and gone. Me being the twenty-year old financier, I suggested I prepare pay vouchers for the Company so we would have spending money when we arrived.

That got me a big attaboy! SFC James, a Pay Officer, and I picked up a payroll at Finance and dispersed the money to the compliment, and proceeded to "have a few" while the boat was being watered and fueled. We made one more stop in Okinawa, and arrived at the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club (Qui Nhon) around April 10, 1966.

We were informed that the boat was taking small arms fire and we would debark with weapons loaded. We climbed down cargo nets like war dogs and boarded LSTs. We hit the beach in full battle dress uniform with our rucksacks on our backs. There were several American women sunbathing on the beach at Qui Nhon who looked at us as if wondering if someone was making a movie (later identified as Red Cross Volunteers). We then boarded gray buses with no open windows but heavy mesh steel covering the openings, and convoyed to our new home in the Phu Tai Valley, South Vietnam (Lane Army Airfield) {LAAF}.

After a brief time there I was sent to Pleiku (Camp Holloway) to work in the 52nd Aviation Battalion Personnel Section. While there I out processed another paratrooper I had worked with in Division Finance. I met three Screaming Eagles assigned to the 502d PIR that I would see later in Melbourne, FL at a Vietnam Vets reunion. In May I would learn that one of our finest Pilots had been KIA.

One Sunday that summer I was picked up by an air taxi (Huey) and flown back to LAAF. New personnel had arrived and others transferred (swapped), mainly from the 161st AHC that arrived at Phu Tai {LAAF} six months prior to us.

Then the highly awaited promotion list for Lieutenant Colonel arrived. Bernie Cobb was first on the list and was transferred to Pleiku. Walter Payne assumed command. Major Bob Stuart was reassigned to Vung Tau as the assistant Air Field Commander until his DEROS. (He retired and received his Masters Degree and taught college for twenty years and retired once again). He advised me to return home and go to college. I followed his advice and did that. This began the constant change of command for this unit due to the promotions of the field grade officers not authorized at this company level. This unit was blessed with soldiers that were selected by a Master and were appointed Angles who would see them through this seemly senseless war.

In 1974 I re-enlisted and became a Combat Engineer (12B) after completing a course designed especially for prior service personnel (instead of basic training). I received orders for Germany, as was my contract. I spent the next 35 months working first as a Personnel Specialist, then my final 16 months as the Legal Clerk. This was an E-6 slot as I was a Staff Sergeant (SSG) then. I volunteered for recruiting duty and was school trained in Indianapolis, and received another PMOS of OOR4P (now OOE). I spent the remainder of my 4-year contract as a Field Recruiting NCO in San Diego, CA.

I received my Associate Degree from the University of Maryland while studying in Germany. After I left the Army in Oct 78, I returned to TN and received my Bachelors Degree from TN in Mar 1980. I served in a JAG unit in Knoxville while attending UT. I transferred to a Transportation Group (USAR) in Jacksonville where I was promoted to Personnel Senior Sergeant (Sergeant First Class E-7). I was a sales professional at that time.

My last profession was a Letter Carrier for the USPS. I spent 20 years there and, during this time, sixty (60) employees were shot to death by fellow co-workers. I retired in June 2001 and had open-heart surgery in 2003. I am a third degree Master Mason, a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a Shriner. I currently reside in East Tennessee, sixty miles due north of Chattanooga.

Reflecting back in time, I honestly feel that the people I worked and served with in the 174th Assault Helicopter Company in 1965-66 were the finest bunch of guys one could only pray to be with. Hopefully the future will bring more of these fine folks to our reunions in Fort Walton Beach, FL. We always have a great time and Santa Rosa Island is a fabulous place to visit with the best food and drink. Plus, we have another beautiful Director of Sales at the Best Western Hotel, and the previous lovely lady visits us and attends the banquet dinner as well.

Airborne! Airmobile! Air Assault!

Bill Haupt > Class of 66 "Original Cast Member"


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