MARCH 29, 2022 – I joined the Marines at the age of 18 and was sent to Vietnam. The unit I was assigned to was unique and designed to create the element of surprise against the NVA and Vietcong. We were organized to demoralize and destroy the enemy. My unit was the First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment. The objective was to fly in harm’s way against these enemy forces wherever they appeared.
My battalion fought in 24 different operations and I was wounded three times in battle during my 13-month tour. Our bravery was recognized as our unit earned two Presidential Unit Citations for the heroic battles fought. For many soldiers, a year, or 13-months is just a blip on the timeline of life. But for those incredible men that fought and served in that same time period, can be a never ending nightmare relived over and over again for the rest of their lives. Now that many years have passed and more resources are available, it is important for them to know a way to connect with those who have shared the same experience. Finding other brothers and resources can be very powerful and healing.
The Internet Makes Finding Old Friends Much Easier
Personally, I’ve found comfort and healing in connecting with other veterans, but I also found the ability to use online tools for research while writing my memoir, On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam. For example, when I was writing the book I thought it would be a good idea to talk to others who have been in the same time and place while serving in Vietnam. I remember a lot from that time but after fifty years, I can’t remember all the fine details about battles and various situations I talk about in my book.
I first reached out to the Third Marine Division Association to discover when the reunions would be so I could attend and talk to the men I served with. Once I talked to them I found the names of other members of my unit who didn’t attend. Are you interested in reaching out to those brothers and sisters you served with?
HullNumber is a site whose mission is to connect Navy personnel in a safe way, without having to share your personal contact information. When you sign up, you also provide your hometown and state so that those you are connecting with can confirm that it’s the person they are looking for. Best of all? It’s completely free and always will be.
I came across hullnumber.com because I reached out to let them know I had mustered aboard the USS Okinawa, LPH-3. I told them who I was and about the book and that I had been in action from their ship. I also mentioned that I had taken many pictures while onboard and that they were available on my website. They are now letting everyone know at their next reunion about the book and I even plan on attending to speak.
Together We Served is designed to connect veterans from all branches of the military. It’s the largest U.S. Military directory with over two million veteran members. It’s designed to not only connect you with other veterans but to provide a place to document your service for future generations as well.
Once my book was finished, I went to Together We Served to get the contact information of the men who rostered into the site who were in my unit. I was able to get in touch with these men to let them know there was a book about their unit.
Rallypoint is the largest social media network designed just for service members, veterans and their families. It’s a safe place to connect with old friends, network with other veterans, provide help for others, find jobs and discuss military topics. It was created to help bridge the gap between service and civilian life.
What’s unique about this site is the ability to help other veterans. Being a veteran is being a member of a large extended family. Others who have fought understand the challenges we face abroad and when we return home. It’s valuable to be able to lend a helping hand to a brother or sister.
4. Vet Friends
Perhaps you’re looking for someone specific that you can’t find online? Vet Friends offers a membership that gives you access to over a billion military records. You’ll have the ability to search thousands of military units and get member updates. You’ll also be able to create a profile to share photos and chat with the 2.5 million veterans who are also members.
Marines Find Your Platoon provides access to a photo of your platoon and also enters you into a database where you can connect with other members. They also offer membership in their Facebook Group as well. All you need to get started is to submit your name, platoon number, location of your bootcamp and the year you joined.
Bill Taylor, author of On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam served in the First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment in Vietnam for 13 months in 1967 and 1968. He has spoken for veterans organizations and to local schools about the Vietnam War. He currently belongs to the VFW, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans, Third Marine Division Association and the Marine Corp League. He has been a Chapter Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Visit his website, https://williamvtaylor.com.