12 September 2013

Vietnam-era National Guard Unit Rallies for Reunion

By Iowa National Guard Public Affairs

A reunion of former members and families of the 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry (2-133rd Inf. aka "2nd Mech") will be held Sat., Sept. 14, 5:30 p.m. at the Sioux City Iowa National Guard armory, 3200 2nd Mech Dr., Sioux City, Iowa.

The event will commemorate the 45th anniversary of the unit’s mobilization for the Vietnam War in 1968, and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War in 1963.

To RSVP for the event, contact Bill Anderson at 712.490.5043; or by e-mail: william.d.anderson88.ctr AT mail.mil.

History of the 2nd Mech

The 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 133rd Infantry (“2nd Mech”), formerly a subordinate unit of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, Iowa Army National Guard, was headquartered in Sioux City, Iowa, with companies or detachments in Le Mars, Sheldon, Cherokee, Ida Grove, and Mapleton. The 2nd Mech was inactivated in September 1997.

Dubbed the “Sioux City Guard” in the late 1890s, the unit was mobilized for federal service multiple times, including in response to the Spanish American War (1898), Mexican Border Service (1916), World War I (1918), World War II (1940-45), and the Vietnam War (1968-69).

Reactivated and federally recognized in 1947 as part of the establishment of Iowa National Guard units after World War II, the” 2nd Mech” spent the next 15 years in flux as the unit and the Iowa National Guard was organized and reorganized multiple times. The year 1962 found the “2nd Mech” and the 34th Infantry Division preparing to change once again; in mid-1962, the 2nd Regiment of the 133rd Infantry was converted from traditional infantry to mechanized infantry. Later, the unit would serve in support of the Vietnam War.

Three years later in November 1965, the “2nd Mech” was chosen as one of 982 National Guard and Reserve units nationally to support U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s defense strategy as a Selective Reserve Force (SRF). A SRF was a unit selected to maintain a high level of combat readiness in support of potential combat operations around the globe. The SRF was formed to replace the nation’s strategic land power reserve. In its final state of readiness, an SRF could be released to active duty operational control for use in situations that might require immediate attention by an active duty unit without depleting the “ready reserve” of the nation’s military force.

On March 3, 1966, Major General Junior F. Miller, the adjutant general of Iowa, announced that the Iowa National Guard had three units, to include the “2nd Mech,” that were in a high-priority category in the event combat operations in Vietnam escalated. That same month, the unit began conducting combat maneuvers in the Loess Hills of Western Iowa, 18 miles north of Sioux City. After receiving the message from the battalion executive officer “to have their personal affairs in order so they could be ready to go in 7 days,” the 863 soldiers of the “2nd Mech” were mobilized for federal service on May 13, 1968 and stationed at Camp Carson, Colo. Selected unit members were later deployed from Camp Carson to Vietnam for combat duty.

After spending nearly 20 months on active duty in 1968-69, 851 of the original 863 unit members returned to state control on December 31, 1969. Of the original 863 soldiers, 385 saw combat in Vietnam with active duty U.S. Army units, 63 were wounded in action (WIA), and 12 were killed in action (KIA).

Members of the unit killed during Vietnam are:

  • Spc. 4th Class Philip L. Baker, killed in action March 3, 1969
  • Sgt. Roger C. Beall, killed in action Feb. 3, 1969
  • 1st Lt. Ronald I. Buchanan, killed in action July 19, 1969
  • Pfc. Norman K. Folk, killed in action Sept. 26, 1969
  • Sgt. Steven V. Crum, killed in action Aug. 13, 1969
  • Pfc. Arlin D. Franklin, killed in action July 17, 1969
  • Spc. 5th Class David A. Lefler, killed in action May 12, 1969
  • Spc. 4th Class Duane E. Olson, killed in action June 11, 1969
  • Pfc. John H. Platt, killed in action May 24, 1969
  • Spc. 4th Class Akke J. Timmer, killed in action Aug. 6, 1969
  • 1st Lt. Corbin C. Tindall, killed in action April 11, 1969
  • 1st Lt. Donald F. Wood, killed in action Aug. 19, 1969

Members of the “2nd Mech” were awarded the following awards for their support of combat operations in Vietnam: one Soldier’s Medal, five Silver Stars, 144 Air Medals, 137 Bronze Stars, 63 Purple Hearts, 294 Army Commendation Medals, 186 Combat Infantryman Badges, 443 Good Conduct Medals, 795 National Defense Service Medals, 37 Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medals, 264 Vietnam Service Medals, and 264 Vietnam Campaign Medals; a total of 2,633 awards.

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