By Jennifer Martin - email
Jerry Prescott was born and raised in Walthall County, buty he was living in Alabama when Uncle Sam came calling.
"I didn't have any idea that I was gonna get drafted because of the fact I had already been to the draft board here in Jackson. And due to a high school football injury they had classified me 4F. We left Copiah Lincoln Jr. College and went to Birmingham and after we had been there about a year, I got called again," Prescott recalled.
Despite his classification as unfit for duty, the Army wanted Prescott. He did his basic training at Fort Bragg and advanced training at Fort McClellan.
"Basically they taught us how to kill people and survive," Prescott said.
He got his orders in December 1969 to go to Vietnam. He was 24.
"Got assigned to the Americal Division that was up north, well the Central Highlands actually, south of Danang," Prescott said.
He flew up and was quickly sent into battle with the 196th Infantry.
"We report in, and they assigned us to our field company that we were gonna go with. Then they gave us our supplies, weapons, got us ready to go. Put us on the helicopters, went out in the field," Prescott said.
"Our unit, strictly search and destroy missions. We were between the south Saigon area and the north and everything passed through us, whether it was supplies, troops, whoever," Prescott added.
It was a freeze zone, which meant basically anyone they encountered, they treated as the enemy.
"We'd go into these areas and we'd fight the battles and secure the area. But just as soon as we left, they were right back," Prescott said.
"Nobody really wanted to be there. We were patriotic. We loved our country. We wanted to serve our country. But that didn't mean... it was like 'I have 12 months I have to be here. I don't care if I fire not one round. As a matter of fact, I hope that I don't have to fire not one round.'
But the whole time I was there, I saw 2 people that actually put in 12 months and went home. I saw a lot of people who left on medivac helicopters. I saw people leave in bodies bags. But I didn't see many people say 'hey my time's up. I'm going home'," Prescott said.
It was less than six months before Prescott would, himself, leave on one of those Medivac choppers.
"I really thought I was gonna die in those rice patties the day I got shot. I didn't see any way around that at the time. But I had a job to do and I tried to do it to the best of my ability," Prescott recalled.
After surgery and physcial therapy, he finished his tour as an MP at Fort Hood in Texas.
He went on to get his degree at Southern and went into retail work.
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