Retired officer continues community service | News


The man responsible for the Madison County Military Hall of Heroes website is among the ranks of those bravery award recipients. He continues to volunteer to maintain it.

Vietnam veteran Eric Deets is a biographer for the Hall of Heroes which has records dating from the Civil War to present day. His biography is among 406 on the website and is on display at the Madison County Courthouse. Any Madison County resident who has received a Medal of Bravery is eligible for the Hall of Heroes.

Deets, the hall’s biographer since 2014, has revamped the website and keeps it up to date. His other volunteer work includes beginning his 10th year as a tax preparer for the Redstone Tax Center and serving as an advisor for the past 14 years for the Senior Cadre of Retired Executives helping small businesses.

“It’s hard to verbalize,” the retired Lt. Col. said of why he’s volunteering. “I know one of the reasons is that I care about our military families. And the other is that I derive great satisfaction from volunteering.

” I will continue. I don’t see the need to stop.

His work with the Madison County Military Heritage Commission includes “The Price of Freedom Project” at local high schools. Members of the Hall of Heroes visit high schools to talk to seniors about military life and their experiences. ETV Huntsville does video interviews with members of the venue who want to share their stories on camera. Deets submitted some of these 30-minute video chats to the Library of Congress.

“The Madison County Military Heritage Commission tours every high school in Madison County because Vietnam isn’t taught as part of history, and it surprises the kids,” he said. declared. “One of the questions they always ask is ‘Have you ever been scared in battle?’ And the answer that I think is always given by all of our people is that “I would never want to go into battle with someone who is not afraid”. You don’t want someone next to you in battle trying to earn a Silver Star.

He encourages all Madison County veterans with a military valor award to submit their information for possible induction into the Hall of Heroes. The website is Six veterans are selected for induction each year. Along with their families, they are honored in a ceremony at the Von Braun Center during Veterans’ Week in November.

Deets’ own story began in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, where he was one of 10 children. He was in college but dropped out for a year because of money problems. He was working to get back to school, but was drafted in 1966 at the age of 19. “He waited too long,” he joked.

After basic training, he went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to become a combat engineer. From there he went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for officer candidate school. The officer becomes a forward artillery observer. Deets was a 21-year-old first lieutenant when he was posted to the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One, northwest of Saigon from July 1968 to July 1969.

“I have always been impressed by the professionalism of the non-commissioned officers,” he said.

On October 5, 1968, he was seriously wounded when his company was ambushed and surrounded by a battalion of the North Vietnamese army. They were surrounded for four hours straight. Eighty percent of the soldiers of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, were killed or wounded. “I was sure every second I was going to die,” Deets said. He was medically evacuated. He suffered six shrapnel wounds and a head wound from a rocket-propelled grenade that knocked him onto his back and knocked him unconscious. He recuperated in Japan and returned to Vietnam to join another unit in December.

Deets received a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, the Air Medal, and a Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters. But when he returned to the United States in July 1969, landing in California, protesters spat at him and shouted at him.

During 10 years of night school, Deets earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baylor in 1978 and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Texas in 2001. He retired as a lieutenant colonel at Fort Sill in 1989 after 23 years of service. Deets became a defense contractor. He worked for five years at Magnavox then 12 years at TRW and Northrop Grumman. Deets, who moved to Huntsville in 2003, retired in 2008 and worked as an independent contractor for two years.

He and his 52-year-old wife, Vivian, reside in Huntsville. At 75, he enjoys model trains, gardening, reading and swimming. He is a member of the Military Officers Association of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Senior Cadre of Retired Executives, Madison County Military Heritage Commission, and Redstone Model Railroad Club.

Deets, rated 90% disabled by Veterans Affairs, shared his thoughts on this nation’s commemoration of 50 years since the Vietnam War.

“I would say it’s late,” he said. “But we appreciate it.”

Editor’s Note: This is the 355th in a series of articles on Vietnam Veterans as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.


Comments are closed.