An early mission...
Dennis E. Otte was drafted into the Army on November 29, 1965 in Omaha, Nebraska. Basic Training was at Fort Hood, Texas. Everyone was allowed to go home after completing Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Lewis, Washington. Dennis was assigned to Company B, 1/22, 4th Infantry Division.
When he was to return to Seattle, President Reagan had fired all Air Traffic Controllers. Planes were grounded. A train out of Omaha was commandeered so they could return to ship out to Vietnam on the U.S.S. Nelson M. Walker. The men remained in their respective units aboard ship with their officers.
Upon arrival at Cam Rahn Bay, they were trucked to Camp Enari southeast of Pleiku. They ended up in the Central Highlands near the Ho Chi Minh trail. The soldiers were soon on search and destroy missions. Battles could require tanks as well as aerial support and may go on for days.
An early mission was on a moonless night. The troops told their superior officer that it was too dangerous in the dark. They were told to expect a court martial. The troops then said if their officer would lead them, they would follow. This mission was called off, but there were many more to come.
Troops would be taken by helicopter and off loaded over rice paddies to soften their landing. The heavy, heavy backpacks were loaded with everything needed. Weapons and ammunition were hand carried. Dennis was trained on a 90 mm recoilless rifle as well as rifle, machine gun, and grenades.
After one year overseas surviving malaria and being wounded, Dennis returned to Fort Carson, Colorado to complete his tour of duty on November 28, 1967. Lt. Walt Ferguson once said, “The military is a great career – if it does not kill you.” Dennis concurred. He knew many on the Vietnam Wall.
Dennis had 3 kinds of cancer the last 2 years of his life: Basil Cell skin cancer, Multiple Myeloma, and Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He died May 15th, 2020 on his oldest son’s birthday. His grave site is 515 at the Omaha National Cemetery.