Vietnam War

Oral History Interview: Bill Martin

A man being interviewed on set.

Bill Martin WTVP

Bill Martin in Bong Son, right outside village near LZ TOM

Courtesy Bill Martin

Bill Martin of North Pekin, Illinois graduated high school in 1965 and joined the Army. He began his military training in Fort Polk, Louisiana then moved on to Fort Irwin, California and was eventually shipped out on the USS Barrett to serve in Quy Nhơn, Vietnam for 18 months.

He joined the infantry as a forward observer for artillery units where he coordinated communications for firing rounds and adjusted coordinates for the soldiers. On duty, he sustained a leg injury from a mortar round, which often set off metal detectors when he returned to the United States.

Because he was a Caterpillar employee before going off to Vietnam, Martin came back to guaranteed employment at a company he worked for and retired from thirty-seven years later. During this time, Martin has participated in numerous organizations and projects that continue to aid and celebrate American war veterans. One of these projects helped fund and install a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Springfield, Illinois which he visits every year.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Bill Martin