By Ashley Rader
When Frank Murray enlisted in the Army as a teenager, it was a decision that swiftly took him from Stoney Creek to the tropical heat of Vietnam, where his team literally bulldozed the jungle to help American forces in their battles.
Murray joined the Army in August 1966 as it became clear he would likely be drafted.
“I had been thinking about it for some time, and just thought I would go ahead and join,” he said. “My father had been in the Army in World War II. It just seemed like the right thing to do. When you are 19 years old and there is a war going on, you don’t want to miss out on it.”
He completed basic training at Fort Campbell, Ky., then heavy equipment mechanic training at Fort Belvoir, Va. After being stationed in Germany for three months he was deployed to Vietnam in October 1967, attached to the 168th Combat Engineers in the 27th Land Clearing Team.
“I was a replacement for guys that had been killed or wounded,” Murray said.
The team had 30 D7E Caterpillar bulldozers that were used to carve roads through the Vietnamese jungles and to destroy the paths and tunnel complexes built by the Vietnamese soldiers. He said an extensive tunnel complex through the jungle allowed the North Vietnamese troops to sneak up on their targets.
“Wherever we were getting mortar attacks from, or wherever we needed to go, we went out and cleared the jungle,” Murray said. “It was so they didn’t have any place to hide, and we cleared their trails so they didn’t have anywhere to go. We would go into an area and just clear out all the trees and brush and everything, all the jungle.”