CENTERTOWN, Tennessee – Veterans and Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) came together July 14, dedicating a Warren County bridge to one of its fallen heroes who fought in the Vietnam War more than 50 years ago.
Sergeant Thomas D. Young grew up in the Dibrell Community of McMinnville, Tennessee, and served in the Vietnam War with A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Abn. Div., as a utility helicopter repairman and crew chief. On Dec. 15, 1970, Young was killed in action during a reconnaissance mission in the Quang Tri province of South Vietnam.
For his actions, Young was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart and numerous awards presented by the Vietnamese government.
Prior to serving in combat with the division, Young attending basic training at Fort Campbell in 1969. He would often send letters home that detailed the sense of fulfillment he gained from conducting his duties as a Screaming Eagle, executing missions to support and save the lives of fellow Soldiers. In total, Young executed 36 dangerous missions as a crew chief during his 105 days of combat service.
“Tommy wanted to be assigned to the 101st when he served in Vietnam and he was proud as could be to wear that 101st patch on his arm,” said Michael Young, the brother of Sgt. Thomas Young. “This event is the honor he deserved years ago.”
The bridge dedication is the culmination of three years of hard work. With the help of some veterans and the local community, a small idea quickly transformed into a full day of honors and a tribute to Young’s selfless service.
“God’s hand is in this, all the stars have aligned to make this a premier event for Tommy,” Michael Young said.
Vietnam Veterans from the Alpha Troop Association played a major role in putting the event together. The group coordinated with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation to provide a UH-1H Huey for the event, conducting an honor flight with Sgt. Young’s Family and a flyover for the dedication.
The Alpha Troop Association is committed to keeping alive the memories of all the men and women who served with A Troop, 2-17th Cav. Regt., while staying connected to those who currently serve in the unit.
“It is about instilling and maintaining a sense of pride in the Screaming Eagle community, as your service in the unit will be a piece of you that you carry for the rest of your life,” said Mike Mabe, former A Troop Association president. “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the three years I served with the 101st in Vietnam, or the brotherhood and the memories.”
Current Army Aviation Soldiers from the 101st attended the event, representing the division.
“I am so proud of the heritage of not only 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, but also the heritage of the 101st,” said Sgt. Jesse Kliss, a crew chief with D Troop, 2-17th Cav. Regt. “It is an honor to carry on the legacy of Sgt. Young as I serve in his former unit.”
For Young’s Family and countless veterans the bond created by service in this storied division remains strong. Whether actively serving or retired the legacy tied with being a member of the Screaming Eagles will live on in the service of future generations.