“It Was What I Expected; It Was Tough”: Service In Vietnam With D/1-5 Cavalry And Special Forces

Mike Lam


Mike Lam was born in 1941 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His dad worked for the city water utility, and his mom was a clerk at a local supermarket. After high school, Mike attended college at Oregon State, graduating in 1963. He enlisted because he could not get a job, and he knew the Army had a program for college graduates to become officers. In fact, his basic training company was all trainees on the college option program, like he was, and he was put in charge of his element. He remembers particularly enjoying weapons training. Officer Candidate School was tough, but it was what he expected. After OCS, he returned to Ft. Gordon, where he served as a weapons instructor before he received orders for Vietnam. Enroute, he completed the jungle school in Panama. He arrived in Vietnam in July and joined the 1st Cavalry Division at Camp Evans in An Khe. When he finally arrived at D/1-5 Cavalry, everyone was on the perimeter, and he linked up with his Platoon Sergeant. He recalls experiences on patrols, setting up ambushes, digging in the mortars, and conducting air assaults. He describes being wounded at Bong Son, where he was shot in the upper thigh. He was evacuated quickly and processed through MASH units in Formosa, the Philippines, and Japan. He noted that the Army made sure wounded Soldiers healed completely before returning to the fight. He redeployed to the United States in 1968 and was stationed at Hunter Leggett, which he found to be very difficult duty due to the prevalence of drugs and a lack of discipline. He was promoted to Captain, joined Special Forces, and returned to Vietnam in 1968 with 5th Special Forces Group near Marble Mountain and Da Nang. On this tour, he spent time with SOG and worked with people of the Nung tribe because he spoke Chinese. He remembers a post near Nha Trang being overrun with 16 killed, which was a very tragic event for him. When he returned home, he earned a teaching certificate and worked in Special Education for 26 years. He then took a night job with the Disney Corporation and worked there for 26 years. He also transitioned to the Army Reserve Special Forces as an E-6 and retired as a First Sergeant. He concludes the interview by reflecting on what his service means to him.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 13 September 2021


name Mike Lam
service Infantry
unit Weapons Platoon, D Company, 1-5 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division
specialty Officer Candidate School
service dates 1964 1969