“We Never Had A Fear Of Being Defeated”: A Sky Soldier In Vietnam

Patrick Toffler


COL(R) Patrick Toffler grew up in an Army family. His parents met in Germany following WWII. His father was an Artillery Officer and his mother worked for the Red Cross. As a young man, Patrick decided he wanted to serve in the Army, and his father suggested he attend West Point. He decided to branch Infantry, because he liked dealing with people and wanted to be an Infantry platoon leader. After attending Airborne and Jump Master School, the Basic Course, and Ranger School, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division for four months before being deployed to Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, where he served as a recon platoon leader. He arrived in Vietnam in June, 1969 and after the 173rd’s orientation school, he proceeded to 1-503rd IN at LZ Uplift. He returned from Vietnam in early 1970. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his parents’ service, his West Point experience, and his service in Vietnam. He describes what it was like to be a platoon leader in 1-503 IN, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam in 1969. He discusses the various positions he held, first as a mortar platoon leader, then a line platoon leader in B Co, and finally as the recon platoon leader in E Co. He provides examples of the different types of missions he participated in, with descriptions of his experiences in combat. He recalls some interactions with Vietnamese civilians, and concludes with some of the lessons he learned in Vietnam.


name Patrick Toffler
institution USMA
graduation year 1968
service Infantry
unit 82nd Airborne Division, 1-503 IN, 173rd Airborne Brigade
service dates 1968 1998