Brothers drafted together, fly together on Honor Flight
Jim Wolf, of Gowrie, and his brother Paul Wolf, of Farnhamville, not only attended the Honor Flight together, but they were drafted together.
“We left for service on the same day,” said Paul Wolf. “Jim had his draft notice, and I knew I was going the next month, so I went up and asked if we could go together. They cut me different orders and I did.”
The two brothers first headed to basic training in Fort Bliss, Texas, before going their separate ways.
Jim Wolf said he then went on to Fort Leonard Wood for advanced training, then back to Texas for a short time before he was sent to Korea. During his one-year stint in Korea, Jim Wolf said he served as a heavy equipment repairman.
“I was lucky that way,” he said.
When his time was up in Korea, he had just seven days left of his assignment, so was granted an early release to come home. His welcome home, he said, wasn’t a very good one.
“We were looked down on when we got home,” he said. “It was hard to swallow, and it still is.”
Paul Wolf said after his basic training and additional training in Oklahoma, he was sent to Vietnam, where he served with the 1st Infantry Division motor pool.
“Had me scared to death when I got in the country and to the Big Red One,” he said. “I told them no, I am not infantry, I am not 11B. But they said, ‘That’s alright. We got trucks. So I ended up working as a small wheel mechanic.”
Paul Wolf said he safe, but they were on red alert a lot and some of the hardest parts of his duty were the lack of sleep and when monsoon season hit.
“There were many times we would be down in the bunker and we would wake up on our air mattresses floating in the water,” he said.
The Wolf brothers often wonder what kind of impact having two sons drafted at the same time had on their family.
“We have talked about it a lot,” said Paul Wolf. “We don’t know what our parents went through, especially mom, to have two sons gone. Now that we’re both dads and grandpas, we wonder what it would be like to have two of our kids serving at the same time.”
Paul Wolf said a lot of Vietnam veterans claimed they were spit on and called baby killers.
“I didn’t go through that personally,” he said. “When I came home, of course, I didn’t have anybody meeting me at the airport, but you know, I didn’t have any bad experiences coming home.”
For Vietnam, a lot of young men were drafted right out of high school.
“You take an Iowa farm boy off of the farm, run him through eight weeks of basic training, and another eight weeks of AIT and infantry, throw him a rifle in his hand and he goes out and lives in a jungle, not knowing if he’s going to live until tomorrow, then his tour’s up, then send him home and tell him to go back to the farm, to go back and be a kid again – it don’t happen. They’re never the same.”
The Wolf brothers said the war interrupted their lives.
“We were both in business and had to sell out of business and start over when we came back home,” said Paul Wolf. “I always told my girls, I don’t know whether to be proud or not, because we were in an unpopular war. We went over there, were over there a long time, lost a lot of lives and what did we accomplish? Absolutely nothing. It’s the World War II vets. We will never have another generation like them, and they really are the ones that deserve a lot credit.”