COVENTRY— Beginning his military career at the age of 17, Capt. Richard Gaudet traveled to numerous countries and fought in multiple wars and prior to his recent retirement he was the last Vietnam veteran to be an active-duty Rhode Island National Guardsman.
Capt. Gaudet, who resides in Coventry, enlisted into the Army in 1971, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
“I think ever since I was a child I was interested in the military,” he said. “My grandfather served in World War I, my father served in World War II and my older brother served in Vietnam.”
A year after enlisting, Gaudet said he received his first orders to deploy to Thailand, where he stayed for 20 months.
Although troops were pulled out of the Vietnam War a year later, he said his company, the 70th Aviation Detachment, was responsible for resupplying materials and inserting and extracting troops.
Being deployed to a third world country as a young teenager, made Gaudet realize how fortunate he was to live in the United States.
“These are true third world countries with no electricity and they don’t have indoor plumbing, which is a total culture shock to go some where people have to go down to the river to cook their food,” he added.
Gaudet explained that when he returned home from Thailand he was discharged from the Army immediately.
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