SP4 Willie Gentry was drafted into the Army in September 1970 as the war in Vietnam was winding down. After boot camp and further training, Gentry got the orders telling him he was headed to Vietnam. He was just 19.
Gentry dropped out of school and had just settled into a job at Lasko when he received his draft notice. His life was about to change for a third time in a year.
In Vietnam PFC Gentry was assigned to a combat zone with F troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Calvary Regiment.
“I was the one going out looking for the fight,” he said “I was all over.”
He found a big fight on May 19, 1971, when his unit engaged intense enemy fire. While under fire from the enemy and without regard to his life during the engagement, Gentry positioned himself in an area of heavy fire “to place a volume of suppressive fire on the insurgent forces.”
According to the Bronze Star Medal with V Device certificate, Gentry’s actions resulted in a successful completion of the mission.
“His courageous actions were an inspiration to the other members of his unit. … His display of personal bravery and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.”
Gentry also received the Combat Infantry Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Service Medal and the Sharpshooter Medal.
Throughout his time in Vietnam, Gentry saw firefights that still haunt him and battles he tries to forget.
Gentry served a year in Vietnam and when he was discharged, he spent six months in the hospital fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.