The Boys of St. Joe’s ’65 in the Vietnam War


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About the Book

Eleven high school friends in idyllic North Adams, Massachusetts, enlisted to serve in Vietnam, and one stayed behind to protest the war. All were from patriotic, working-class families, all members of the class of 1965 at Saint Joseph’s School. Dennis Pregent was one of them. He and his classmates joined up—most right out of school, some before graduating—and endured the war’s most vicious years. Seven served in the Army, three in the Marine Corps, and one in the Navy. After fighting in a faraway place, they saw the trajectories of their lives dramatically altered. One died in combat, another became paralyzed, and several still suffer from debilitating conditions five decades later. Inspired by his 50th high school reunion, Pregent located his classmates, rekindled friendships, and—together, over hours of interviews—they remembered the war years.

About the Author(s)

Dennis G. Pregent is a retired vice president of human resources for Spalding & Evenflo and ConAgra. He joined the Marines in his senior year of high school and served over the next six and a half years in a number of stateside posts as well as seventeen months in Vietnam during the years of 1967-68 and 1970-71. He lives in Garner, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Dennis G. Pregent
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: 143 photos, appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7971-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3815-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Corps Tactical Zones ix
U.S. Armed Forces—Organizational Structure xi
Military Occupational Specialties xiii
Part I: My Vietnam
1. Introduction: The Boys of St. Joe’s ’65 1
2. When Memory Invades 9
3. A Boy’s Life in the Berkshires 14
4. Boot Camp, Parris Island 25
5. First Tour: Okinawa/Vietnam, 1967–1968 35
6. Second Tour: Quantico/Vietnam, 1968–1971 54
Part II: Their Vietnam
7. Mike Gorman—Army Helicopter Crew Chief/Gunner 69
8. Russell Roulier—Marine Infantryman 82
9. Joe Daigneault—Marine Infantryman 95
10. Ron Racine—Army Mortarman 110
11. Pat Lupo—Army Mechanized Infantryman 127
12. Leo Chaput—Army Infantryman, Medic 141
13. Mike Chalifoux—Army Mechanized Infantryman 156
14. William “Bill” Buzzell—Army Artillery Unit 168
15. Gary DeMastrie—Navy, Brown Water Sailor 180
16. Jim Luczynski—Army Infantryman 192
17. Carol Bleau Boucher—War Protester 207
Epilogue 217
Appendix: Guide to Terms and Abbreviations 223
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

• Bronze Medal, History—Military Writers Society of America

• “Highly personal memoir…all [eleven men] are memorialized through the many hours of interviews that inform this book”—Library Journal

• “A compelling true story of high school classmates, the Vietnam War, and the complexities of life thereafter, The Boys of St. Joe’s ’65 in the Vietnam War recounts the valor of these brave American heroes who, having worn our nation’s uniform with honor and dignity overseas, returned to a country mired by protests, mistreatment, and something far less than a hero’s welcome. If you haven’t thanked a Vietnam veteran for his or her service, you’ll want to do so after reading this book.”—Senator Bob Dole

• “Dennis Pregent, a Vietnam veteran, has done a superb job in writing about a small group of service members who grew up together and served their country with honor.”—John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, Retired Army Brigadier General and co-author of American Warrior: A Combat Memoir of Vietnam