MINDEN, La – For nearly 47 years, dentist Richard Campbell (Gamma Alpha–Louisiana Tech’65) has been serving the people of this small city in Webster Parish.
Campbell grew up in Minden and by the 1960s was attending college at Louisiana Tech and later graduated school at LSU. In 1968, as the war in Vietnam raged on, Campbell decided to leave school and join the Army voluntarily. He went to officer candidate school at Fort Benning, Ga., and by 1970 found himself in Vietnam as a 2nd lieutenant and platoon leader. The terrain was surprisingly familiar.
“The geography of it was not that different from what we have here in North Louisiana, a little hilly in places. I was rarely ever in a rice paddy,” Campbell said.
Campbell was part of the 1st Cavalry Division. What it meant for him and his platoon was getting to the fight by air.
“We traveled by helicopter wherever we went, except for when we were slogging through the jungle,” Campbell said.
Eventually, his colonel thought enough of him to make him a recon platoon leader. They would take helicopters to various locations and spend up to a month in the field at a time.
“You had harder missions with fewer people. But, by the same token, we were well supported,” Campbell recalled.
The terrain and level of danger created a variety of challenges as they acted as forward observers trying to figure out what the enemy was up to without being noticed.
“The enemy was very ingenious. We had to be extremely careful of booby traps, so we rarely walked down trails. We trudged through the underbrush,” Campbell said.
Despite the danger of his platoon’s recon assignments and days in the jungle, Campbell and his men returned safely.
“One of the things I was most proud of is that I never lost a life as an infantry platoon leader,” he said.
After spending parts of 1970 and ‘71 in Vietnam, it was time to come home. Campbell says he was very fortunate. More than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam.
“I never was shot. I had things blow up all around me. The good Lord was just looking out for me is all I can say,” Campbell said.
Campbell was awarded three Bronze Stars, two with valor, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his service. When he came home to the ArkLaTex, he found instant support.
“You’ve heard of people getting spit on and all that sort of stuff. it never happened to me,” Campbell recalled. “It may have had to do with the area that we live in here. I venture to say a very patriotic area, a very supportive area.”
Brother Campbell was recently inducted into the Horace H. White Province Court of Honor on January 19, 2023.