March along, sing our song, with the Army of the Free.
Our first honoree tonight is George Hazard.
George served in the Army for four years, 1970 to 1974. He was born Sept. 24, 1950, grew up in Bridgewater and graduated from Bridgewater Central School in 1969, the last class to graduate from Bridgewater High School.
After high school George played soccer and took classes at MVCC for two trimesters.
Recall the Vietnam War was still going strong in 1969. It was the second highest year for Americans killed in action, nearly 12,000.
In 1969, to remedy the inequities in the existing draft system, the United States went to a National Lottery. On Dec. 1, 1969, birth days were randomly drawn for men born from 1944 to 1950.
Recall George was born in 1950. George remembers watching the drawing live on TV waiting to see when his birthday would be drawn. Sept. 24 was No. 195.
By May of 1970, they were up to draft No. 150.
George decided his number would be called before the end of the year, so he opted to enlist rather than get drafted. Going in as a code interceptor required a longer commitment; George enlisted for four years.
However, two months into training, he decided to switch career fields and became a mechanic and was trained on both shell and track vehicles. While at Fort Knox, he had finished training and was wondering where the Army was going to send him when he was approached by none other than Major Gen. George Patton the IV, son of the World War II hero, Gen. George Patton.
Shortly after their conversation George received orders for Vietnam. George spent seven months as a tank mechanic near the border of Cambodia in an NDP, Nightly Defensive Position, which means on patrol in the jungle.
Once a week his troop visited the fire support base where he could get a real meal, a bed and a hot shower. But it was at the fire support base where George experienced hostile fire.
You've heard about Agent Orange? George’s patrols constantly traveled around ground saturated with Agent Orange….