James Satterfield

When I was in High School, the 101st and 82nd Airborne jumped into the upstate of South Carolina in Operation Swift Strike. As a teenager, I was hooked. I had to do that someday, and when I graduated from high school, I decided college could wait, and I joined the army to become a paratrooper.


I went into the army in June of 1965, going to Fort Gordon for basic training, then on to Fort Leonard Wood for Combat Engineer Training. From there, I went to Jump School at Fort Benning. On completion of Jump School, I was assigned to the 101st Airborne. I had completed what I had set out to do, becoming a screaming eagle.


After several months at Ft. Campbell, the 4th battalion of the 173rd Airborne was formed from a “robbed” battalion of the 101st. I was part of that “robbed” battalion. I now was an original member of the 4th battalion, a sky soldier. We joined the rest of the 173rd in Vietnam in June 1966 after a 17 day voyage across the Pacific on a troop ship. After landing in Vung Tai, we then convoyed from there to Bien Hue the home base of the 173rd. I was with C company of the 4th battalion, which was an infantry company. Forty-three in my platoon arrived together in Vietnam; at year’s end 6 of us came home together. Most of the others were either killed or seriously wounded.


Upon my completion of this tour of duty, I returned to the U.S. in June of 1967, returning to Ft. Campbell and the 101st. After a few months with the 101st, the entire 101st was alerted to go to Vietnam. We who were combat veterans were transferred to the 82nd in exchange for the non-veterans of the 82nd. Now I was part of the All American Division.


During my stay there, we were alerted to get ready to jump into North Korea to free the captured American ship the Pueblo. Thankfully, that was averted with us standing by to board planes to go.


Then came the Tet Offensive. The army needed an additional 20,000 men quickly so we were selected to go. Again, I was on my way back to Vietnam but this time as a Sgt. The 82nd was located in the northern part of the country at Phu Bi near Hue. Our first mission assisted the Marines in taking back the city of Hue, and I was part of that action. On completion of my second tour, I return to my ETS.


Later after college, I joined the national guard, but the part of my military service I am most proud of is the Vietnam service and the Airborne.