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~Susan Wittig Albert

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Brother, "Bear": by Frank Fox

Dale Allen Fox - "Bear"
My brother, Dale, spent two years in Vietnam with the 1st Air Cav., as a crew chief and door gunner.

He was a very good door gunner/crew chief, well-respected, and the guys all called him "Bear".

In spite of being on helicopters day in and day out, he never even got a scratch -- I was stunned he was not wounded, or killed.

One thing he constantly did was keep his M-60 on either side cleaned and operational, and he always loaded his feed belts with tracers every third round, instead of every fifth round. 

When asked why, he said he wanted to better see where his rounds were going.

There are many vets alive today, thanks to the cover and protection he gave to ground troops in an LZ. We will never know how many got to be grandfathers, play baseball with their sons, or give their daughters away in marriage because of him.

One time, there were some Army troops pinned down and they couldn’t get picked up right away.  They were running out of ammo, so he was firing very close to their position.  The way he loaded the tracers every third round, afforded him more accurate fire power, because the tracers were just like drawing a straight line. 

The pinned down Captain said over the radio, “I don’t know who’s doing the shooting up there, but if you send him down here, I'll kiss him!”  

Once, he sent home some black VC pajamas that he harvested after some fighting.  Dale loved the army and he loved what he did -- he is also my hero for his service. 

He joined the Army in late 1966, and was on his second enlistment.  They discharged him in '71 or '72.  He was going to go yet a third time, but the mother of the baby he is holding (photo below) talked him into staying home and getting married.

The Army agreed. Twice was enough, and he went to Fort Benning, Georgia.

By the age of nineteen, he had four rows of ribbons and several air medals and he was an E-5 in rank.  We're talking career material here.  He could have been a poster child for the Army.

How Vietnam took its toll on Dale was through exposure to Agent Orange and giving him a drug habit ... one marijuana smoke when he got back to the States took that all away.

His habit started in country, because it was readily available. Officers knew how invasive it was, but the troops did better when using marijuana. Trouble was, one day you were there, the next you were home – and your habit went with you.

He was found with one (1) joint on his person and was subsequently kicked out of the Army that he loved so much. His exemplary service made no difference. Uncle Sam tolerated it in Vietnam, but once you were home it was a no-no.

He has long since finished the use of recreational drugs, but he was left with the gut-wrenching humility of being booted from the military.
I tried writing to our Texas congressman in Washington to have the blemish struck from his record, but it fell on deaf ears.

Of course, now, we have high ranking politicians and even Commander and Chiefs saying they smoked pot, or like G.W., they also did cocaine ... but hey, that was okay ...  

Dale and daughter, Stephanie

The photo on the right was taken not long after the Army gave him the boot.  The baby is his first daughter, Stephanie. 

Dale with lower left amputation 

The more recent photo on the left is what two years in Vietnam, exposure to untold quantities of Agent Orange, and two bad marriages can do to a person. 
Dale said the VA hospital in Houston told him his amputation was a direct result of his exposure to Agent Orange. It did something to the circulation in his foot. 

As you know, there are many more of the same kind of stories out there. That’s why, since Vietnam, I am against aggression, unless we absolutely have to and then we should be in it to win. We have to stop having images like the one above be the result for so many.

Dale Allen Fox - "Bear"

This photo was taken during a peaceful protest by members of the local chapter of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Saturday, along North Street near the Stephen F. Austin State Campus in Nacogdoches TX.

The group came out in support of Texas House Bill 507, calling for the decriminalization of the possession of one ounce, or less, of marijuana, as well as legalizing whole plant medical marijuana in the state.
More on Medical Marijuana

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.


  1. Frank,
    Thanks for sharing this story about your brother. That war took its toll on a lot of good young men.

  2. It was nice to read this about my Dad. Funny how working on family ancestry can make me stumble across this article I had no clue about. Thank you Uncle Frank.

    - Kandi Jo


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