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Tom Dean Smith


I grew up in a dairy farming area in southwestern Wisconsin near the small community of Kendall. I attended a one room "Waters" grade school and was the the only person in 8th grade upon graduation. I attended Royall High School in Elroy, Wisconsin graduating in 1962. I worked on several farms during high school and the first two years of college. I attended the University of Wisconsin - Platteville graduating in June of 1966 with majors in Biological Science and Geography. During summer vacation I worked for the Wisconsin Conservation Department and the Department of Interior - U. S. Geological Survey during the summers of 1965 and 1966.

I enlisted in the Army in October of 1966 and took Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and AIT at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In March of 1967 I was sent to Vietnam and was assigned to Headquarters Battery of the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, 25th Infantry Division. During my entire tour in Vietnam I was assigned to the Fire Direction Crew with 7th Bn/11th Arty headquartered in Cu Chi. I also spent a great deal of time at numerous fire support bases including Tay Ninh. I returned Stateside in March of 1968 to spend my last 6 months of service as a Company Clerk with the 2nd Armor Division in Fort Hood, Texas. My wife, Sandra, and I were married in August of 1968 while I was still in service and after my Honorable Discharge in October of 1968 we returned to North Freedom, Wisconsin.

On our way back north to Wisconsin we stopped and visited with my best friend over in Vietnam, Thomas De Witt O'Hara in Springfield, Illinois. We both had arrived in Vietnam at the same time and we became good friends. I served my 12 months in Vietnam and came home while O'Hara extended his tour for 6 months and was wounded on May 4, 1968 and was sent Stateside. He eventually recovered from his wounds only to pass away in 2016 with lung cancer likely caused by exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Sandy and I both were employed at the Olin Mathison Army Ammunition Plant in Baraboo, Wisconsin from November 1968 until April, 1969. In April of 1969 I started working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and was stationed at various locations throughout the State retiring as a Senior Real Estate Specialist (Licensed and Certified General Appraiser) in 2005. Upon retirement from the State Sandy and I formed an appraisal company, Coulee Country Appraisals, and completed many land appraisal for several public agencies until retiring once again in 2017.

A couple of years ago I happened to locate another Vietnam 7th Bn/11th Arty comrade (Philip Moran) who was friends with O'Hara and myself. He now resides in New York City. During a "Freedom Honor Flight" trip to DC on 09/11/2021, that I was privileged to be on, Phil came down from New York and met me at the Vietnam Wall. Although we had been communicating by E-mail for about 2 years we had not seen each other in 54 years. We found the names of two other Vietnam comrades, George William Dekker and Michael Leon Brewer, on the Wall that did not make it back Stateside. Bill and Mike were on the Artillery Survey Crew with 7th Bn/11th Arty and we visited many times with them while at Cu Chi. THEY WERE THE REAL HEROS!

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