Home Town: Laurens, South Carolina
DOB: October 18, 1949
Military Branch: United States Army
Component: Selective Service RA
Pay Grade: SP4
MOS: (Military Occupational Specialty) 11B2P
Start of Tour in Vietnam: April 1, 1969
Country: South Vietnam
Wall Location in Washington: N/A
A LITTLE INFORMATION ABOUT HIS FAMILY
When Thomas returned from Vietnam, he married his long time sweetheart Gaynelle who was waiting for him. This coming April "2018", Thomas and Gaynelle will be married 48 years. They also have two children, a son Phillip and a daughter Stacy. His son Phillip has a 17 month old daughter named Caroline and his daughter Stacy has two boys Wil (Wilson) 4 years old and Riley 2 years old. As of today, Thomas and Gaynelle still live on the farm that has been in the Wilson family for over the past 150 years.
THINGS HE RECALLS ABOUT RANGER TEAM 16
Back in the rear Dowd would have our team members cleaning our weapons, making sure we had everything we needed in our ruck sacks. Dowd would always brief us on the missions we were to take. And out in the bush Dowd would always walk point and he never would walk the trails. He would cross them instead. He would pick out a good place for us team members to set up an ambush site. Everyone on the team did their job. Ranger Wilson was the M79 man. We didn't have to carry anyone. And, we could always depend on each other. We all thought of each other as brothers. Papa Company was made up of a lot of good teams, and we all got along well with each other.
One of his favorite memories is when Duke DuShane made us spaghetti......man, was it ever good! We would have knife throwing contests, tackle football until the Captain had us stop in fear of someone getting hurt and not being able to go on a mission. We also had boxing matches, Dowd was the champ. I never boxed him, I wasn't that crazy, ha! Oh yea, Dowd would always have us fill up on cheese prior to a mission to "bind us up".
We would tease Larry Smith about living in a cave. In our hooch, he had a blanket split up the middle and it looked like a cave. Then there was the booze and our "club". Larry and I were two big timer country music fans. We drank and sang then sang and drank some more, ha. We were known as the two hillbillies, especially Larry.
We had a lot of fun times in the rear but when we were in the field, we were all serious. There was a mess hall up from our company area that would sometimes cook us some hot chow after a mission. They didn't have to but we sure appreciated it. They seem to respect us Rangers. Sometimes, some of the cooks would come down to our club.
Anytime we got a new "cherry" in our company they had to drink a flaming meme at the club. When I say "club", I mean a plywood room with a bar, but it served the purpose.
THOMAS ENDED WITH THE FOLLOWING REMARKS:
Thomas stated that he has forgotten so much these past 35 years. He can't remember a lot of things. However, it's the bad things that he does remember the most. He stated that while talking to Larry Smith the other night, Larry did mention some things that Thomas could recall. He believes he just tried to forget a lot when he got home and tried to push those memories aside.
But He wishes now, that he could recall a lot more than he does today.
Thomas stated that after team 16 got shot down, he was put on Terry Bishops Team. That would be Ranger Team 11. Ranger Wilson served with Papa company from June 19, 1969 until he left the country at the end of March 1970. Ranger Wilson also attended Recondo School for three weeks from the end of July thru the middle of August 1969. He recalls it was a very tough course.
LASTLY, THIS SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM HIM TO ME:
You must really look up to your brother Thomas to do this for him. I know he would be proud of you for all you've done in his memory. He was indeed a true Ranger and a fine man. I'm proud to have been on his team and to have known him.
Thomas, it is my hope that the information I have posted above serves justice to you? As an original member, your place should be here on this website with your former Team Mates of Ranger Team 16. Forgive me for not including you on the website back in 1997, when I first placed this site up on the World Wide Web.