STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – Robert “Bob” Chipps wasn’t drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. He volunteered to enlist.
He said he wanted to get his service over with so he could move on to a civilian job.
That’s how the then 20-year-old from Steubenville ended up overseas.
My main object was to be out there in the field and be there in case someone got hurt.Robert Chipps, Army Veteran
Robert Chipps was a medic during the Vietnam War, but before his service started he was having trouble finding a job after high school because of his 1A draft status.
That meant I could be drafted at any time and I wanted to get my service time over so, I volunteered and the first place I went to was the Army.Robert Chipps, Army Veteran
Chipps went through the usual basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, then 10-weeks of medical school at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, where he learned what he described as “basic EMT work” like giving shots, taking blood, diagnosing someone with a cold and giving out prescribed medications.
In February of 1970, Chipps was sent to Vietnam.
We were stationed in Long Binh at headquarters company 169th Battalion Engineers and they had seven outside construction companies attached to us because we were making an asphalt highway. That’s grinding the rocks like you see here in the states, moving the earth, putting culvert pipes in to level out the roadway. You got assigned to Baker Company, Charlie Company, 53rd Engineers, which was a rock crusher. You stayed there until they wanted you to come back to Long Binh to finish your rotation.Robert Chipps, Army Veteran
Although he never saw combat, Chipps said he was plenty busy with his assignment of keeping the men he served with in top health and assisting when there were accidents.
I had a young soldier that had just gotten married before he went to Vietnam and he was working on a crane and he smashed his fingers and he did not want me to remove his wedding band. He told me to cut his finger off. I said by the time you see your new wife I’ll have the ring cut off, sent back to the states to a local jeweler in Steubenville. He fixed the ring. Sent it back to me. Didn’t charge me. We put the ring back on after the guy’s skin healed and I said ‘your wife won’t even know you had the ring off’.Robert Chipps, Army Veteran
After 14-months in country, Chipps was discharged and returned home to Steubenville.
I’m glad I did it because it’s an experience you will always remember.Robert Chipps, Army Veteran
Once home, Chipps did get a civilian job at Weirton Steel, where he was for more than 40 years.