Ron E. Key
Specialist 4th Class
U. S. Army
Dates of Service: 06/14/1966 - 03/1968
Finance Specialist, 25th Infantry Division

"The good Lord took me out of Vietnam and I kept all my promises that I made to myself," Ronald says of his resolve to return home and seek higher education. Born in Shreveport, he graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and attended Southern University. He moved to California and was working at a post office during the 1965 riots in Watts in Los Angeles. "After that they had cleaned out the whole Watts area and drafted just about everybody," he says. Ronald was drafted too in 1966. At the induction station in Los Angeles, he was amazed at how many men were dressed like women in an attempt to stay out of Vietnam. The U.S. Army sent him to finance school at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana, and then on to Vietnam. "First thing that hit me was the heat," he recalls of his first day in country. A member of the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Division, he worked in headquarters confidence at Chu Chi in officer payroll. He also processed new arrivals and out-processed casualties. He remembers meeting a new "gung-ho" lieutenant one morning at his desk, and then the next day handling the paper work of the same man who had already been killed. Ronald was on R&R (rest and recuperation) in Bangkok, Thailand when the Tet Offensive occurred. Because of combat conditions, he wasn't able to return to his outfit for a month. He remained at Chu Chi for nine months, and then was sent to another base camp, Tay Ninh. Ronald came home in 1968 after spending a year, two months, and ten days in Vietnam. True to his word, he returned to school, this time at Grambling University where he earned a business administration degree. He was employed at a bank in Tucson, Arizona, and then joined his father's grocery business in Kansas City, where he worked for twenty years. He eventually sold the business and returned to Shreveport. Overall, he says remembers Vietnam as "a positive experience."