"My Friend" by Dale Mattier

When I reported to the Military Police school at Ft. Gordon it was a warm September Sunday in 1967. I gave my orders to a husky corporal on duty. He looked up at me and said "I know you". I said "yea, I know you too". We had taken some Police Science classes together at a college in San Mateo California. I was assigned to a barracks and there I was greeted by a guy wearing arm band with a couple of stripes on it. He explained he was my squad leader. He said he had gotten there a week before and went to leadership training. He was helpful and not at all pretentious. During the next eight weeks we became pretty good friends. His name was Tom Klaiss.

The night before graduation we stood in a formation and were called one by one to receive our orders for our first duty assignment. All but a couple of the men in the company got orders for Vietnam. After comparing orders Tom and I found out we were assigned to the same unit, the 720th in Ben Hoa. After a short leave I reported to the Oakland Army Terminal. I wasnít there very long before I ran in to Tom. We got shipped out on the same plane and sat next to each other during that long flight. During our stay at the replacement center we both had our orders changed to go to the 127th MP Co. We flew to Qui Nhon on a C123 and reported to our company. The Barracks were all full of short timers, so they housed us in a tent between the orderly room and the NCO barracks. We were put into different platoons but still hung out together when possible. We were there nearly seven months when I got orders to go to another unit. I was upset as hell. I liked it there and didnít want to leave. The blow was softened, somewhat, when I went to the barracks and there was Tom holding a sheet of paper, "Yep, me too" he said.

There was about six of us that had orders for the 97th Battalion. When we reported to BN HQ they assigned half to the 630th and half to the 218th in Nha Trang. Tom and I both went to the 218th. We were there about two months when the platoon sergeant told me I was being moved to a detached platoon about 100 kilometers north, near Tuy Hoa. I found Tom and sure enough he was going too. The next day we were in the back of a 2 and1/2 ton truck on our way.

Tom had become my best friend in the world. I donít recall us ever having heated words. The unit was kind of laid back and the duty was good so we both extended our tours for six months. During this time Tom's mother had a heart attack and Tom left abruptly on emergency leave. Because of her condition, Tom got reassigned to the 66th MP Platoon at the Oakland Army Terminal only 15 minutes from his family home in Castro Valley California. We talked on the phone when I was home on my extension leave.

I ended up spending 26 months in Vietnam. When I got home I tried to look him up but didnít have any success. A couple years later while working for the San Bruno Ca. Police Dept., I ran Tomís name through California DMV but it came back, no record. During the last few years I used a couple "People Search" sites to try to locate him without luck. On April 16th I found some different search sites and again quarried his name. The forth one gave me a match of a Tom Klaiss living in Michigan. I sent a email to see if it was him. The next morning when I checked my email I had gotten a response. IT WAS HIM! After 30 years I found my old friend. We are now communicating and both full of questions. We have a lot of catching up to do. I am really looking forward to the reunion now, as Tom assures me he will be there.

Oh yea, that husky corporal that I knew when I got to FT. Gordon, he joined the San Bruno P.D. and we worked together for a couple years. He went on to the Hillborough Ca. P.D. and is now Chief. Dale Mattier