South St. Paul native Glenn Boche was drafted into the army in March 1969. Once he finished boot camp at Fort Campbell, KY, he went onto Fort Polk, LA, for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which included weapons instruction, hand-to-hand combat, and jungle warfare.
At the end of Aug. 1969, Boche’s orders for Vietnam came through. He was a part of Co. A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division that was stationed in Tay Ninh, about 55 miles northwest of Saigon. Within a month of arriving at this base camp, Boche started going out on patrol missions in the surrounding area. On Jan. 5, 1970, Boche’s unit was sent to Nui Be Den, otherwise known as the Black Virgin Mountain. There was a Special Forces Camp at the top and Fire Support Bases (FSB) around the bottom.
However, the middle section of the mountain was comprised of rugged terrain and caves in which the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) could entrench themselves. While patrolling this section of the mountain two of Boche’s fellow soldiers were killed. On another mission while retrieving bodies from a helicopter crash, a good friend of Boche’s was killed by a sniper a mere 50 feet in front of him.
These missions continued into February and soon Boche was sent to Elephant’s Ear near the Cambodian border. Boche was wounded here for the first time with an injury to his upper left arm. The next day Boche’s unit was informed by their commander that they would be returning to the same area and he warned that some of them would not make it back.
Once back at the Cambodian border, they came under intense enemy gun and rocket fire. In Boche’s company, two soldiers were killed and 13 wounded. Boche was injured a second time with wounds in his right leg and ankle. During the battle, soldiers called in a gunship strike, shielding a strobe light inside of a helmet to help the pilot find their position without giving away their position to the enemy on the ground.
The wounded were taken by Medevac helicopters to Tan Son Nhut Medical Center for treatment and it was during this hospital stay that Boche received the first of two Purple Hearts.
Boche left Vietnam in March 1970 for additional surgery and recuperation in the states. After finishing an assignment at Camp McCoy in Sparta, WI, he returned to Minnesota. He married his wife, Valerie, in 1980 and they raised three sons in South St. Paul. Boche is retired from Burlington Northern, having worked there for 39 years.