William C. Gifford, Jr.
U. S. Army
Dates of Service: 04/10/1969 - 12/01/1970
Combat Medic, 11th Armored Cav Reg, 37th Medical Co

William C. (Claude) was born in 1946 in Flagstaff, Arizona to William and Marva Gifford. The family moved to Shreveport when Claude was about a year old. He attended school in Shreveport but later went to Jefferson, Texas to a church boarding school. At age 22 he received a draft notice from Uncle Sam and was sent to Fort Polk for in-processing. Because he was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church, and a conscientious objector, he was sent to boot camp at Fort Sam Houston where he was trained as a medic. From New Orleans he flew to San Francisco and then to Long Binh-Bien where he was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, (the Blackhorse Regiment), 37th Medical Company. Claude spent half of his time in the 37th Med aid station, living in hooches in Quan Loi where they had three meals a day and slept on Army cots. The other six months he spent in the field, in free fire zones, sleeping on the ground and eating C-rations and dehydrated food. When he was in Quan Loi, he treated the injured, stitching them, bandaging them, giving antibiotic shots, starting IV's. Providing first aid to wounded soldiers was common - while on patrol his unit encountered land-mines on seven different occasions. When he became eligible for Rest and Relaxation Leave he refused to go because there was no replacement available for his unit, G Troop, where he had become head medic. When he left Vietnam the military was downsizing and soldiers who had less than five months of their enlistment remaining could get an automatic discharge. He left Vietnam at the end of November, 1970, flew back to Oakland, was processed, given $600 travel pay, listened to someone from the VFW talk about GI benefits, and then flew home. When he returned, he married his first wife and began working on business machines at a family business. After his divorce, he began working as a machinist in Blanchard, Louisiana. He does believe that the United States had just cause for going to Vietnam because of the Communist treatment of the Vietnamese people but he thinks the war could have been handled better. Claude is married to Mary Louise and has seven step-children and four grandchildren.