Larry McFall volunteered for Vietnam in 1968 but the Army had other plans for him.
“I guess I felt I should be doing my duty over in a combat area,” he said. “I went back to Germany. That made my second tour to Germany.”
The Elwood, Indiana, native had three tours to Germany during his 20 years as a Soldier. He retired in 1979 as a sergeant first class.
McFall was a junior when he quit high school to join the Army.
“My dad was a World War II vet, National Guard. Military family. That’s all I wanted to do,” he said. “When I got old enough at 17 I quit school and joined the Army.”
He said he has no regrets. After basic training in 1959 at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he arrived at Redstone Arsenal for the Nike missile training. Redstone was a frequent stop throughout his career.
“I’ve been in and out of Redstone so many times I made it home,” he said.
His specialty was Nike mechanical for six years until he entered Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He served in Okinawa, 1959-61; and in Korea, 1962-63.
After retiring in 1979, he moved to Florida and then returned to Huntsville. He became an Army civilian at Redstone in course development. He joined the EOD school as an instructor in 1981. Subsequent jobs took him to Savanna Army Depot in Illinois and to Army Laboratory Command, Maryland. He was recalled to duty in 1991 to Fort Riley, Kansas, for Operation Desert Storm. McFall then returned to his job at LABCOM where he retired in 1993.
He returned to Huntsville in 2005 and he served with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at Redstone from 2006-17. He was division commander for U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Division 24 North Alabama.
McFall, 79, and his wife of 59 years, Captola, reside in Huntsville. All four of their children served in the military, two with the Navy and two with the Marines. Their daughter, Virginia McCoy, resides near Tampa, Florida. Their oldest son, Monte, lives near Hartford, Connecticut. Lee, a retired Marine, teaches school in Hanoi, Vietnam. Their youngest son, John, who was in the Navy, died in 2014 in Pearl Harbor. They have six grandchildren.
The Vietnam-era veteran attended the National Vietnam War Veterans Day observance March 29 in the Exchange food court. He shared his thoughts on this nation’s commemoration of 50 years since the Vietnam War.
“I think it’s great,” McFall said. “I thought about the Vietnam vets, they served well. And then they got a raw deal from the American citizens when they came back from Vietnam.”
Editor’s note: This is the 314th in a series of articles about Vietnam veterans as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.