Americans in Wartime Experience

Gale Bertrand

Vietnam War

Gale Leonard Bertrand served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Gale was born on October 14, 1948 in Camel, Nebraska. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969, and attended Basic Training at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Gale was shipped to Vietnam in August 1969 and soon after he arrived at Camron Bay, Vietnam. He was an Infantryman assigned to B Company of the 1st, 46, 96 Light Infantry Brigade. He would carry a machine gun as the new guy along with a 60 pound pack.

B Company would move constantly while out on patrol. They would spend several days on the Fire Base and several weeks in the jungle on patrol. In December 1969, there were 100 soldiers in the company.  As they were moving at night along a river, word was passed to head to a village across the river where there was a gun fire fight underway. The company never stayed in a place more than one day, but this time they did.   They ended up staying two nights in the village. During the second night hand grenades were thrown into their position. There were 4 men around Gale, 3 men would survive, 1 man was killed instantly. One of the men was injured in the head and had 30% of his skull was blown away. Gale had a devastating injury which resulted in the loss of both legs due to a hand grenade.  He would receive the Purple Heart for his injuries.

Doc Brown patched up the injured and prepared them for transport. A medic helicopter made a night time landing and flew the injured to a field hospital. Gale would then be taken to a Naval Hospital in Tokyo, Japan. Gale’s family was able to call him while he was in Tokyo. Gale was then sent to the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. He would undergo 12 to 15 surgeries and was at Fitzsimmons ARMC for 14 months.

The Battalion Leader nicknamed Big Berta, contacted Gale after 10 years. The Squad Leader John Paul found Gale in Nebraska and B Company Reunions have been held every year for the past 14 years. There were 60 men on the B Company Roster.  Some men couldn’t attend the reunions for their own reasons.

Gale visited the Vietnam War Memorial “The Wall” with his 3 sons. He attended college and used his G.I. Bill.

Thank you Gale for your service to our country.

Bio prepared by Rebeccah Christovich

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The Americans in Wartime Experience explores the impact of war and conflict on America since WWI. It honors those who served in the military and on the home front and highlights the values they demonstrated in serving – duty, honor, and courage. It examines how periods of conflict have profoundly shaped American society. It educates visitors about the costs of war, both on a personal and social level. It challenges visitors to remember the service and sacrifices made by their fellow citizens to preserve and defend our freedoms. LEARN MORE

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