College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Vietnam Veterans Share Their Stories--Odd Job Men

Date: February 18, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Loosemore Auditorium

CLAS 10th Anniversary Celebration is proud to announce:

My Year in Vietnam
Vietnam Veterans Share Their Stories
A Presentation Series Organized by the GVSU Veterans History Project
Dr. James Smither, Moderator
(actual times may vary, due to illness, injury or other extenuating circumstances)
Over 2.3 million Americans served in and around Vietnam between 1961 and 1973, and each one has a unique story to tell, and their stories go well beyond the traditional stereotypes, both negative and positive, of the American soldier in Vietnam. The panelists include not only combat infantrymen from the Army and Marine Corps, but also radiomen, medical corpsmen, engineers, artillerists, officers, various support personnel, a dog handler, a prison guard and a Special Forces member. In each presentation, three Vietnam veterans with overlapping experiences will tell their stories and take questions from the audience.
All presentations are free and open to the public. All presentations will be in Loosemore Auditorium on the GVSU downtown campus unless otherwise indicated. All presentations will start at 7:00 PM.
Sept. 25, 2013: Send the Marines!: Louis Dudeck, Mike Woods, Mike Burton
Oct.2, 2013: The Army and Special Forces Go In: Bill Schrader, Denny Gillem, Alan Toms
Oct. 29, 2013: Piling On: Ken Scott, Ed Morrin, Michael Raudenbush
Nov. 20, 2013: Tet 1968: Gabe Hudson, Larry Groothuis, Ed Henk--138E DeVos (downtown campus)
Dec. 3, 2013: After Tet, 1968-69: Ron Howell, Dennis Bassett, Tom Sibley
Jan. 9, 2014: With the Marines: Ron Oakes, Rich Jakubczak, Jim VandenBosch
Jan.27, 2014 (at Gerald Ford Museum. Ford Museum co-sponsor ): With the Cav: Barry McAlpine, Mike McGregor, Rich Dorsey
Feb. 18, 2014: Odd Job Men: Jim Dykstra, Rex Greenawalt, David Guevara
March 18, 2014 (1:30 PM start time in the Browne Center (on Woodward Ave at Aquinas College): Cambodia and Ripcord, 1970: Al Walker, Bob Anderson, Jeff Wilcox
Apr. 9, 2014: Vietnamization and Withdrawal: Joe Lange, Alan Vande Vusse, Gabe Hudson

Jim Dykstra was born in Grand Rapids in 1947 and was drafted into the Army after completing junior college in 1967. After basic training at Fort Knox, Dykstra was sent to For Gordon, Georgia for Military Police training and was eventually sent to Rhodes Canyon, New Mexico where he worked security for the base. In 1968 he received orders for Vietnam and was sent to Long Binh, where he became a prison guard at LBJ (Long Binh Jail), the main American military prison in Vietnam. He arrived shortly after there had been a major riot at the facility, and took part in the new commander’s efforts to get the maximum security prisoners under control. After spending most of his tour at the prison, he got himself reassigned to Road Patrol, and had the opportunity to see much of the area around Saigon and observe how the Americans operated there. Upon his return from Vietnam in San Francisco, California, he remembers being called names and harassed by passersby while he was wearing his uniform. Back in Grand Rapids after his discharge, he tried college again for a while, and then left school to work in the family business.


Rex Greenawalt was born in 1947 in Plainwell, Michigan and graduated from high school in 1966. He had college plans, but did not enroll right away, and was drafted into the Army in September of 1967. He trained as an infantryman at Fort Polk, Louisiana and signed up for non-commissioned officer training, but washed out of the program and received orders for Vietnam in 1968. Once in Vietnam he was placed in a holding company and had to help with laying cement sidewalks. He did not enjoy his duties and volunteered for scout dog training school. He spent two weeks training with a dog named Hubert, and then went with him to join a scout dog platoon in the 1stCavalry Division at An Khe. He then went into the field and patrolled with Hubert for several months until Greenawalt was wounded in January, 1969 and Hubert was assigned to a different handler. Greenawalt returned to the field, only to be badly wounded in March, and was eventually sent home and discharged.  Once back home, he got married and worked a series of jobs until 2002, when he was disabled due to a combination of old war injuries and PTSD, but continues to write about and share his experiences.


David Guevara was born in Martin, Michigan in 1947 to a family of migrant workers who moved back and forth between Texas and Michigan. This made attending school difficult, and he quit at age 14 after seventh grade. At 18, he got a good factory job in Michigan, but received a draft notice for the Army in 1968. He then decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. He trained at San Diego and received specialized training to be a telephone wireman, a relatively safe job usually reserved for people with better connections than he had. He was then sent to Vietnam and assigned to a base outside of Da Nang, working to replace telephones. During one point of his service, he worked as a radioman and was told to speak in Spanish because the Vietnamese could not understand it. Preferring to work outdoors, he switched jobs and spent the rest of his tour laying and repairing telephone lines on the base. After leaving Vietnam in 1969, he served out his enlistment at El Toro, California, still working in communications, and completed his GED. After discharge, he moved back to Michigan, went to work and raised a family.