Richard Lee Gholston
Specialist 4th Class
U. S. Army
Dates of Service: 01/05/1968 - 01/07/1970
Infantryman, 1st Cavalry

Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Richard, the eighth of nine children, was raised in West Monroe. His parents were Ben Gholston and Ella Mae Gholston. With his father deceased his mother raised the family. Richard graduated from Richardson High School in May of 1965 and enrolled at Grambling State University. He attended two years, then stayed out a semester to work at an ordnance plant in Minden. It was then that he was drafted. Learning Richard was drafted "just kind of tore her up," he recalls. Richard completed basic and advanced individual training in infantry at Fort Polk near Leesville, Louisiana. He recalls his army instruction as "really good," he says. "They knew about the war. They knew what was going on so they didn't miss anything on training us. They wanted us well-prepared and I think they did a really good job," he recalls. Richard arrived in Vietnam on June 4, 1968 at Cam Ranh Bay. He was assigned to 1st Air Cavalry. He was "in combat the whole time," he states. "Every day we would go out walking." Much of his combat excursions were combat assaults in which his unit flew in on helicopters. He remained "real focused because you didn't want to walk up on a booby trap," he remarks. Once, he recalls walking down a trail when he thought, "Don't go down that particular trail. Just turn around and go back." Later a booby trap was found on that path. Meanwhile, he kept in touch with family through letters. "When you didn't get something you felt really bad when you'd look at the guys and they're reading their letters and looking at their pictures and everything," he recalls. He took R&R in Hong Kong. During his Vietnam tour he was promoted to Specialist 4. He earned the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Air Medal for his combat assaults and other flights. Richard completed his tour in Vietnam and was discharged on January 7, 1970. On January 10, 1970, he married Bettie Calhoun. (They would have two children and five grandchildren.) His service in war, he believes taught him "how important life is. You never know when you're going to leave so its best to try to live your life in a way that's respectful. I never did leave the Lord God out. I always prayed over there," he remarks. His time in Vietnam deepened his ideals about freedom. "I thought somebody has to do it," he recalls about going to war. "I didn't volunteer to go but I didn't resist going because there were people before me that had fought in the war so they fought for my freedom so somebody has to defend the United States." Richard is not the only veteran among his siblings. His oldest brother served in the marines in World War II. Another served in the reserves, and yet another served in Vietnam. Richard's medals from Vietnam are actually new. He did not receive them when he left Fort Ord in Monterey, California to fly home. In 2013 he went to Congressman Rodney Alexander's office with his discharge papers, which indicated medals he had earned but not received. Alexander obtained his medals for him and presented them to Richard in a ceremony filmed by local television station KNOE.