In this episode number 925 of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News a connection between a Vietnam Veteran named Thomas Welch and Mel Gibson, the movie star, will be covered. The connection was featured in a story found in The Worcester, Massachusetts Telegram newspaper titled: Soldiers forever carry the memories of war that was submitted by Ken Cleveland.
Thomas Welch of Clinton, Massachusetts, went to Vietnam in 1965 where he became a member of the 2nd Battalion of the 32nd Artillery. That was a 175mm howitzer unit that fired 147 pound projectiles twenty miles away.
In the Vietnam War the fact that the artillery targets were sometimes twenty miles distant from the firing guns it did not provide the gunners with immunity from attacks. When fighting an elusive enemy like the Viet Cong and NVA who could move anywhere in the combat arena, artillery batteries were just as vulnerable to attack as infantry units out in the pursuit of the opposing forces. That was the case with Welch’s unit. As a result of assaults on their firing positions with mortar and sapper attacks his unit lost 39 men.
In November of 1965 his artillery battery provided fire support for the 1st Cavalry Division at the Battle of Ia Drang. It was a fierce battle that was the first engagement of the Vietnam War that involved large forces. Joseph Lee “Joe” Galloway, a newspaper correspondent, was at the battle and later wrote a book along with the ground commander, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore, titled: We Were Soldiers Once… And Young. The book inspired the movie We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson portraying the commander Hal Moore.
As luck would have it Mel Gibson came to Clinton to film scenes for a movie. Welch was determined to get an autograph from the movie star who has portrayed the famous Vietnam commander Hal Moore. Showing his persistence he took an article on the general with his photo and sought to have Gibson autograph it.
Discover what happened to Thomas Welch when he went to seek Mel Gibson’s autograph at the Old Timer Restaurant in Clinton and more about this Vietnam Veteran at episode 925 of the Vietnam Veteran Podcast.