Specialist 4 Duane Bloor took an unlikely path to the Army. He had a couple friends who had been drafted and were headed off to the Army. He and a couple others felt bad for them, so they took them out drinking before they shipped out. Well, they got pretty drunk and headed down to the local post office to speak to the draft agents. One thing led to another, they volunteered for the draft and were on their way to the Army two weeks later. Duane said he kind of felt like he should give up drinking at that point.
Specialist Bloor may have had the quickest path to Apache Troop of anyone we have talked to since he joined up pretty much right after he stepped off the plane. By joined up, the troop had recently lost 6-7 men and were looking for replacements. They grabbed seven men, one of which was Duane, and said, “Congratulations, you’re now members of a quick reactionary force (QRF).”
It didn’t take Specialist Bloor long to settle in as a member of the team as he took to his new role as the M60 gunner right away. He’s the one you see one-handing the weapon in the CBS News footage of their firefight on March 25, 1969. Duane does admit he did have a little edge in being able to do that as he worked diligently to continually modify the weapon until it worked just perfectly for him. The first thing he did was slow down the rate of fire. It made the kick easier to handle and kept him from burning through the barrel and quickly and conserved his ammunition. Another major modification was having the barrels shortened. The maintenance crew was reluctant to do it at first, telling him it would cut down on the weapon’s accuracy. Duane told them the M60 wasn’t designed to be accurate, it was designed to keep heads down. He’d sacrifice a little accuracy to improve its handling.
Among the troop’s most notable battles is March 19, 1969. They call that The Day They Should Have Died. Kregg Jorgenson has gone on record to say that if it wasn’t for Specialist Bloor, they probably would have. Apache Troop had a little bit of trap up their sleeves. The NVA knew that Army platoons were only issued one M60. So when they heard an M60 thumping away at one side of the battle, they would immediately move to the other to try and flank. Since one of Apache Troop’s main missions was to rescue downed helicopter crews, they may or may not have “liberated” some door guns from destroyed helicopters. So, when the NVA moved away from the sound of one M60, they moved directly into Specialist Bloor’s line of fire. His ability to lay down that heavy fire on their flanks is what kept the NVA from surrounding them and ultimately wiping them out. Duane received a Silver Star for his actions on that day.
In total, Specialist Bloor was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam. He is now retired and living in Wisconsin.