Military service wasn’t too popular during the Vietnam era. But Huntsville native Arzell Flint had a personal reason for joining the Army.
“To serve my country,” he said.
Flint was in his late 20s and had a ninth-grade education when he enlisted in 1974. He had basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and advanced individual training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in his transportation specialty.
“Basic training was rough when I was going through it,” Flint said. He served stateside and mostly drove a 5-ton truck. He was at Fort Rucker in 1975-76 and he also spent time at Fort Benning, Georgia, and at Fort McClellan. His unit was 108th Quartermaster.
Flint was a specialist 4 when he left active duty in 1977.
“The Army was great. The service was great to be in,” he said. Flint said he didn’t experience any antimilitary protests during that era in the South.
“We had on our fatigues and stuff, jump boots. The places we were, people really cared for GIs. They liked the GIs. We didn’t have any problems. They looked up to us because we were like protect and serve. We stood out.”
As a black Soldier in that era, he said he also did not experience discrimination. February is Black History Month.
“I heard about it but I never did run across any discrimination against us (black Soldiers),” he said. “I never did run across any prejudice or racism. It was around but we never did run into it.”
Flint went on to serve about seven years in the Reserves, including a deployment to Panama, and left as a sergeant. He worked as a supply clerk at Redstone from 1978-91.
At 72 the Huntsville resident enjoys helping people get from place to place and with their yard work. He belongs to The Rock Family Worship Center. “I’m getting ready to become a member of the American Legion,” he said.
The divorcee has eight children, four sons and four daughters, and 10 grandchildren.
Flint shared his thoughts on this nation’s commemoration of 50 years since the Vietnam War.
“We have crossed the crossroads. We have come a long way,” he said. “We’re on the other side where the grass is greener.”
Editor’s note: This is the 258th in a series of articles about Vietnam veterans as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.