Vietnam War

Oral History Interview: Bruce Thiemann

Bruce Thiemann

Bruce Thiemann WTVP

Bruce Thiemann grew up in East Peoria, Illinois where he graduated from Woodruff High School in 1967.

Mekong Delta, South Vietnam in late summer 1969. Bruce, standing in a field with an M-16 in front of a Dutchmaster 680 helicopter following an insertion. Resting, awaiting orders to go back and pick up troops. Pilots in the background, fishing. Bruce noted his long hair is due to being out in the field for some time.

Photo Credit: Bruce Thiemann

Eager to experience combat first-hand, Thiemann went against his parents’ wishes and dropped out of college after a year and joined the Army in 1968.

In Vietnam, he was assigned as a helicopter mechanic, which he initially resisted until he was able to participate in missions as a crew chief in Vĩnh Long. He assisted his aircraft commanders with insertion missions, dropping off and picking up infantry troops in the southern areas of South Vietnam.

During his time in the Air Cavalry, he witnessed and developed a strong camaraderie with his fellow crew members.

Despite his excitement to join and serve in Vietnam, it took Thiemann about a decade after his return in 1970 to let go of his resulting doubts and shame as a soldier and to be able to talk more publicly about his service with pride.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Bruce Thiemann