Vietnam War

Leonard P. Salvo

Vietnam War Oral History Interview
US Army,  32nd Field Artillery
Date: June 27, 2002
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Irving Bauman
Veterans History Project



Leonard Salvo was born in November 1941 in Brooklyn, NY. He worked as a carpenter until the age of 22, and entered military service on February 16, 1964. Salvo received training as an assistant gunner and was subsequently assigned to C battery, 2/32nd Artillery.  The battery left for service in Vietnam in November,1965 aboard the troopship USS Gordon.

On the day of this interview Salvo presented a slide show which depicted the following Vietnam environments and descriptions.

  • A Post Exchange store, set up in a tent, with soldiers purchasing varied products including beer, soft drinks and cigarettes.
  • Shelter half pup tents, where the soldiers slept, set up on the ground.
  • Supply convoys approaching troops on red dirt roads.
  • Tents serving as training sites, mess halls and recreation areas for troops.
  • Increasing availability of cots, sleeping bags and blankets.
  • Primitive showers with 55 gallon containers mounted on trucks and hot water provided by the heat of the sun. Showers were available from 3:30 to 5:00 PM.
  • Cots with mosquito netting for protection against insects.
  • Tents knocked down by hard Monsoon rains.
  • Food in the field series: A typical breakfast, consisting of a biscuit, ham and reconstituted eggs. C-Rations. Washing mess kits after a meal.
  • Army Thanksgiving dinner, with fresh roast turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, fruitcake, Jello and Kool-Aid, all lumped together in one mess kit.
  • A four seat outhouse style latrine.
  • Ice used for cooling beverages.

Salvo spoke of passing his free time in playing cards with his friends and taking photos of his experiences and environment to send home to his family. He indicated that daytime temperatures in the area west of Saigon, where he was deployed, averaged around 100 degrees during the day and 90 degrees at night. He also described the guns his unit used and noted that two men found sleeping during guard duty and were punished by being confined for a period of time in a six foot by six foot by twelve foot pit.

He then returned to his slide show, with the following views:

  • Construction of mess halls using available lumber
  • Armored personnel carrier.
  • A main street in Saigon decorated for Christmas, with Santa Claus in the picture.
  • A rubber plantation.
  • Saigon street scene.
  • Salvo and friends in civilian clothes.
  • A rickshaw on a Saigon street.
  • Women with eight to twelve year old children in their care working at a laundry.
  • School children lined up with teacher in native ao dai dress.
  • Students at their desks in a school.
  • Soldiers camped on the grounds of Saigon University.
  • Heavy fighting at a Special Forces camp.
  • Trench with sandbag reinforcement.
  • Interior of an armored personnel carrier.
  • Fire Direction Center (FDC) where fire was plotted and instruction given to gun crews.
  • M-79 grenade launcher.
  • Artillery ammunition being cleaned of dirt prior to firing.
  • Cooks preparing chickens.
  • Soldier with .50 caliber machine gun.
  • Damaged helicopter.
  • Tank unit ready for action.
  • Soldier receiving haircut.
  • Salvo posing with an eight inch gun (artillery piece).
  • Scorpion on the hand of a sergeant.
  • Pepperoni, sausage and cheese received in a package from home spread on table for fellow soldiers to eat.
  • A series of Saigon scenes including Ton Son Nhut airport, motorcars, bicycles and smiling children.
  • USO building, interior of market with shopping areas, movie theater and fabric shop
  • Saigon water taxi, church and parliament building
  • Street artists painting portraits.

Leonard Salvo was discharged from the army on February 16, 1966.