Daniel Bradley and I met in his Newhall home where we discussed his U.S. Army adventures along with his remembrances of stories he had of his father’s World War II military service.
As Daniel spoke, it was clear that he suffered heartbreaking losses during his 74 years, yet he remains proud and strong.
Daniel Bradley was born May 19, 1943 in Frederic, Wisconsin while his Dad, Paul, served in the U.S. Army.
When Dan was four months old, he and his mother Ruth moved to Camp Jackson, South Carolina to join her husband, but in 1944 Paul was assigned to Fort Dix, New Jersey. So Ruth and Dan moved to Kankakee, Illinois.
Paul deployed with the 104th Infantry Division to the European Theater as Allied forces were pushing to obliterate Nazi Germany.
On March 1, 1945, Paul Bradley was mortally wounded by Nazi mortar fire at Ichendorf, Germany that took a leg and tragically took his life later that day.
Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant
In 1946, Ruth purchased a home in Aurora, Illinois where she and Dan lived for two years before moving to Phoenix, Arizona where Dan grew up graduating from Phoenix Christian High School in May 1961.
After high school, Dan moved to Pasadena, California, to attend Pasadena College until June 19, 1966 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Dan wanted to become a Military Police soldier but first he took Basic Training at Fort Bliss, Texas and next he was assigned to an eight week training course at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
During Advanced Individual Training, Dan was accepted to Officer Candidate School and was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for six months of training.
Dan was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in field artillery August 8, 1967.
Next Dan was assigned to Fort Ord, California, as a basic training officer until February 1969.
He extended his U.S. Army service one year and was sent back to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for an artillery refresher course before his June 12, 1969 deployment to combat action in South Vietnam.
Kentucky National Guard
1st Lieutenant Daniel Bradley was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery headquartered with the 101st Airborne Division at Phu Bai north of Danang.
Dan was assigned 10 days to nearby Gia Le Combat Base which was also home to the Kentucky National Guard.
Next, he was sent to nearby Firebase Tomahawk for four days to help reconstruct artillery emplacements since Tomahawk had just been overrun and partially destroyed by North Vietnamese regulars.
Three sets of brothers were assigned there and each set lost a brother including one brother who was wounded in action.
Dan barely slept those four days as they frantically restored their fire base camp.
Afterwards, Dan returned to Phu Bai and Gia Le and was promoted to Captain as liaison officer in charge of its Fire Direction Center.
In September 1969 Captain Bradley took command of Headquarters Battery at Gia Le as his unit was re-designated 1st/39th Artillery Battalion.
Emergency Leave of Absence
In November 1969, Headquarters Battery moved to Phu Bai and Dan was summoned home in January 1970 on a 30 day emergency leave of absence because his wife’s father died suddenly of heart failure, and Dan’s wife’s mother was just diagnosed with cancer.
This occurred just one day prior to Dan and his wife meeting in Hawaii for a seven day R&R.
Following his 30 days at home Dan returned to Phu Bai to assist moving his headquarters battery to Fire Base Nancy, in the mountainous area south of Quang Tri.
Dan became an assistant operations officer (S3).
On the soggy, drizzly night of April 13, 1970 Fire Base Nancy came under intense assault by an estimated 500 strong battalion of North Vietnamese Regulars.
That four hour surprise attack began with a heavy barrage of enemy RPG fire and culminated with NVA sappers being obliterated in Nancy’s perimeter concertina wire.
However, a few sappers penetrated their perimeter defense and killed seven brave U.S. soldiers, albeit at very significant price – 80 enemy soldiers were killed that frightful night.
Thrown Off His Bunk
By the time Dan’s tour of duty ended June 12, 1970 he had expe
rienced artillery action nearly every day supporting Marine, Army, Aussie and South Vietnamese infantry grunts in the field that made contact with NVA and Viet Cong forces.
Dan felt proud that he did the best job possible supporting troops out there in harm’s way.
He recalled one humorous night time experience when a 175 Howitzer that was directed right over his hooch at Fire Base Nancy suddenly fired off one of its mammoth shells throwing him right off his bunk.
Man, those things were extremely powerful and seriously loud.
Sounds like a Good Idea
Digressing to Dan’s earlier days when he met the love of his life, Sharon Buckler while attending college in 1961.
When he first caught sight of Sharon, he was infatuated by her beauty. She was tall, slim, naturally blonde and incredibly beautiful.
They started dating one week after they met for about six months and then, in May 1962, Dan proposed. Sort of… they were watching a TV program when a wedding scene came on and the then 19 year old Dan abruptly said, “That sounds like a good idea!”
Sharon, at age 20, responded, “Yes, that IS a good idea”.
Because Dan was not yet 21, a letter of consent signed by his mother was required, however, ladies 18 years of age and older did not require that document. Ah yes, the good ole days.
They were married in the Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, California on June 14, 1963.
When Dan returned home from Vietnam he was assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for an Officer Advanced Course in artillery, but he was abruptly Honorably Discharged January 25, 1971 which highly irritated Dan.
He was forced out of the Army due to the Vietnam War winding down and the Army had too many soldiers.
Dan loved being a U.S. Army officer and he and Sharon had just purchased a home near Fort Sill and planned to adopt a child.
Their plans were suddenly cut short, so they returned to Pasadena and Dan pursued his education earning a degree in Business Administration in May 1972.
While finishing school he obtained a temporary job with Texaco Inc., which became a permanent job for the next 31 years. Assignments took Dan and his family from Los Angeles, to Richmond, Virginia, to Houston, Texas and back to Los Angeles. Dan retired November 1, 2002.
During Dan’s formidable career, he and Sharon had two children and two grandchildren.
Wonderful 52 Year Marriage
After 52 years of a wonderful marriage to his loving Sharon, she sadly passed away from post-polio syndrome.
Dan has remained busy with his family, bicycling, working out at Gold’s Gym, and attending local Veteran ceremonies and American Legion events.
He is a member of the Military Officer Association and the American Legion – Post 507.
And, Dan remains a proud combat Vietnam Veteran and a great American.