ALBERT CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Army 4th Class Specialist Elwood ‘Woody’ Wenell spent 14 months in Vietnam and experienced everything from friendly fire to Agent Orange. While in the Army, death was just an arm’s length away.
“Anyone of the five of us could’ve reached up and caught that rocket propelled grenade that went right over our heads, but it landed down away and fortunately, it was a dud,” Wenell said.
As a specialist for the 25th Infantry Division of the Army, he was often under enemy fire, but the Viet Cong weren’t the only danger. One night, he experienced a friendly fire incident.
“One guy came up and he had a mosquito net on his head and the guy on top had been smoking marijuana and was messed up and said, ‘Halt who goes there?’ and he said, ‘Me’ and blew his head off,” Wenell said.
Wenell spent over a year in Vietnam hauling supplies to different bases. He says the majority of his time was spent in a part of the country that was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange. He attributes that to his prostate cancer.
“It ended up being devastating to a lot of us, because I got a lot of guys I know who are on even 100% disability,” Wenell said.
After coming home from Vietnam, Wenell helped share some military history in Albert City, Iowa, by working with the community to create the Freedom Hall to honor veterans.
“In previous years, I helped in the building since it’s been built, but for over 20-25 years, I’m in the parade in the color guard and usually lead the parade,” Wenell said.
Wenell has spent time after the war reconnecting via Facebook with soldiers he served with and continues to be involved in Albert City.