Sergeant James “Jim” Braun came home one day to find he had a letter informing him that the government had taken the liberty of planning a career for him with the United States Army. After completing training, the Army awarded him with an all-expenses paid trip to Vietnam. Sgt. Braun admits he may have taken a little longer than he was supposed to before reporting after leave. When questioned why, he responded, “What are you going to do, send me to Vietnam?” Unfortunately, this little bit of reverse psychology didn’t work and he was sent to Vietnam.
Sgt. Braun spent his first thirty days on country lost in the shuffle before finally being assigned to Apache Troop. Being one of the bigger men in the troop and feeling he was somewhat articulate, Jim volunteered to be a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO). As an RTO, it was his job to coordinate activity among the platoon and be cool under pressure as he coordinated air strikes, artillery and medevac support in the heat of battle.
Sgt. Braun worked in close coordination first with Lt. Gary Qualley and later Lt. Jack Hugele. It was with Lt. Hugele that Jim went on to participate in some of Apache Troop’s most famous battles. Jim also played the role of the team’s music coordinator. He says, “I believe there were 3 things that kept us going, when we were over there. One of them was each other, one of them was the thought of home and the third thing was the music. Music brought us all together.” In fact one of his fondest memories from the war comes from music. He was sitting in a bar in Taipei on leave when a new band came over the speakers playing some song called, “Whole Lotta Love“, and that was the first time he ever heard Led Zeppelin.
In total, Sgt. Braun spent a little over 13 months in country. He earned one Army Commendation and 2 Bronze Stars during the war. He is now retired and living in Missouri.