“My Men Were My Brothers”: A Platoon Leader In D/1-5 Cavalry

Lloyd Pontier


Lloyd Pontier grew up in New Jersey with his father, who worked for the phone company. In high school, he watched the news every day and was aware of the war in Vietnam. In 1968 he was drafted. By that time, he was married and had a son, but he and his wife had split up so he was living at home. He trained as a signal operator and learned Morse Code, but later volunteered for OCS (Officer Candidate School), seeking more money and the prestige of being an officer. After commissioning, he graduated from airborne school, was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group in Massachusetts, and completed Special Forces training. When he deployed to Vietnam along with 32 Lieutenants from 10th Group, he was surprised when not one of them was assigned to 5th Group. He found himself in the 1st Cavalry Division and was sent to D Company, 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry near Bien Hoa. He was fortunate to have a week of overlap with the previous Platoon Leader, and he learned a lot from him and the Soldiers in his platoon. He describes typical patrols and missions, explaining how his platoon ranged from 20 to 30 Soldiers, occasionally working with other platoons in the company. He shares his leadership style, noting that he respected and trusted his Squad Leaders. In this interview, he discusses several key operations, including investigating a bunker complex, finding a huge rice cache, and defending Firebase David in Cambodia. At the rice cache, he was wounded by a B-40 rocket, but he was the only officer left in the field, so he remained with the two platoons. Near the end of the interview, he recalls two Soldiers who were killed, stating “it was terrible” and “death is permanent and tragic.” He left Vietnam 30 minutes before midnight on the last day of his tour and returned to 10th Special Forces Group. He then left active duty, transitioning to 11th Special Forces Group (Reserve) and working at the phone company. He is proud of his service and misses the camaraderie of the Army, but not combat.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques Returning from War
interviewer Kyle Hatzinger
date 12 June 2023


name Lloyd Pontier
service Infantry
unit D /1-5 Infantry 3rd Platoon, 1st Platoon, Executive Officer
specialty Officer Candidate School
service dates 1968 1972