Cameron Veteran Recalls His 26 Years of Service
By Jay Ermis
Temple Daily Telegram - November 11, 2012
CAMERON - Tom Wiley remembers his enlistment in the U.S. Army, Texas State Guard, service
with the military police and tour of Vietnam, where he was wounded twice, as if it
The Cameron resident will be among veterans honored today during a Veterans Day ceremony
at VFW Post No. 2010. At 11 a.m., he will lower the U.S. flag in front of the post
building to half-staff in honor of the veterans who gave their lives for their country.
At noon he will return the flag to full staff and at 2 p.m., the flag will be posted at
the front and rear of the building and the pledge of allegiance will be recited.
The 1958 graduate of Bellville High School served in the Army from June 20, 1961, through
July 25, 1967, and 12 years later he joined the Texas Army National Guard, serving for 20
years. His military service totaled more than 26 years.
After joining the Army in 1961, Wiley was assigned to the Army military police in April
1962. In October 1963, he was assigned to the 716th MP Battalion in Fort Dix, N.J., and
went to the U.S. Army MP Company after re-enlisting in June 1964, working in AWOL
apprehension, civil liaison and post patrols while at Fort Dix.
While en route to Korea in late 1964, Wiley was assigned to the 512th MP Platoon when he
was promoted to Sergeant E5 for outstanding service. He returned to the states in
In January 1966, he was assigned to the 572nd MP Company at Fort Ritchie, Md., where
security was provided for Raven Rock, a Department of Defense command post.
Wiley worked as a squad leader of a MP squad and assistant platoon sergeant. In October
1966, Wiley was sent to the Republic of Vietnam for assignment to the 545th MP Company,
1st Cavalry Division, where he was a squad and team leader.
“I first worked ‘Rat Patrol’ along Highway 19, which included convoy escort from AnKhe to
Myang Yang Pass.” At Camp Radcliffe in AnKhe, Wiley went on town patrols, convoy escorts
and worked civic action missions.
His stay in Vietnam changed in January 1967 when he was wounded in his right arm. It was
February before he returned to duty after his stay in the AnKhe field hospital. “My
patrol had four men wounded in the ambush, but none was fatal,” he said.
In March 1967, he was assigned to “LZ (Landing Zone) Two Bits” at Bong Song, where he
worked along Highway 1 and into the AnLao River Valley, working convoy escort missions,
security detail and town patrol duties.
He was wounded a second time, this time in the ankle and received grenade fragments in
his leg and body during an attack on April 24, 1967, in the AnLao Valley, west of Bong
“Viet Cong guerrillas ambushed my detail on a river and road checkpoint,” Wiley said.
“The Viet Cong used hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and mall firearms during
this ambush. A relief detail reached us within two minutes and this probably saved the
lives of my men and myself. One of my men was severely wounded in the throat.”
Wiley, his machine gunner and a PIO specialist were airlifted to the Camp Radcliffe
mobile army surgical hospital unit for surgery. After several days, he was taken to Japan
for five weeks and then to Fort Sam Houston in June 1967, where he was promoted to staff
sergeant. He was discharged on July 25.
Wiley said his eight-month stay in Vietnam was filled with days of boredom and
nervousness “with a few minutes of pure terror once in a while. The terror came when they
were actually shooting at you. My MP squad of 12 MPs had 11 Purple Hearts. I was wounded
twice and received two Purple Hearts.”
“The Viet Cong were brutal in the villages when the Americans weren’t around. The North
Vietnamese were motivated and generally most of the time were reasonably well led,” he
said. “We had more respect for NVA troops than we did for the VC. These guys walked three
months from North Vietnam to come down to fight. I kind of respected them.
“They knew their stuff. The Viet Cong, also known as Charlie, were more of a terrorist-
type group of people. You never know when you would find one.”
Wiley said the MPs in the 545th company stood out the most during his stay in Vietnam.
“The 545th MP Company is the most heavily decorated MP Company in the U.S. Army.”
Wiley said MP enforced military law, order and regulations, tried to prevent black
marketing and drugs, provided convoy escorts, town patrols and civic action missions
where they escorted civilians in and out of hamlets to do farming during the day.
He enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in October 1979 as a staff sergeant and
retired July 28, 2000, as Command Sergeant Major for the 49th Armored Division Support
On Sept. 7, 1967, Wiley received the Bronze Star with “V” for Valor, the Army
Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster for the AnLoa River Ambush.
He also received numerous other awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak
Leaf Cluster, Vietnam service ribbon with two stars, Republic of Vietnam campaign ribbon,
Distinguished Unit Citation and Civic Action Medal for 545th MP Company and the Knowlton
Award for service as the command sergeant major of the 649th Military Intelligence
Battalion, which “was one of the proudest and emotional moments of my service to the
state and nation,” he said.