Norwich man served in Vietnam War.

Meet a Veteran: Norwich man served in Vietnam War.
May 25, 2018

In the military: Terry Brick Sr. enlisted in the Navy in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War. “I got drafted into the Army and changed my mind a day later,” he said. He was trained first at Gulfport, Miss., then went to a Seabee unit in Coronado, Calif. Seabees are naval construction units. Brick then was shipped to Vietnam. He was stationed in Danang at first, then was sent to the DMZ, the area on the border of North and South Vietnam. Brick, part of a 25- or 30-man crew, cleared the brush and trees and built an airstrip there so Marine units could land there by helicopter. “The Seabees were the first in to put the airstrip in before the Marines could land,” Brick said. He said he saw Viet Cong troops that were stationed across a river, but “never a shot was fired for some reason.” It was a different story when the Seabees built another airstrip at Chu Lai, near Danang. “We got hit at night,” Brick said. “We spent the next six hours fighting the Viet Cong. We lived, they didn’t.” Brick said he spent almost two years in Vietnam. When he was transferred home, he went to the Groton sub base, and spent the last four years of his military career here. He said his duties as a Seabee were a little different. “I built a trailer park and ballpark on Gungywamp Road,” he said. Brick also got some bad news about his Vietnam service. A doctor told him he had worked driving a bulldozer at a site that had just been sprayed with Agent Orange, a cancer-causing chemical the military used in Vietnam to kill trees and brush. As a result, Brick got skin cancer and is rated a 100 percent disabled veteran. Brick left the military with the rank of petty officer second-class.

After the military: Brick, 73, got married and stayed in the area after leaving the Navy. He now lives in Norwich. He worked building engines at his company, TLB Auto Machine in Norwich. He said he doesn’t want to retire. “No, no, I’m having fun. I enjoy my work,” he said. He is also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. Divorced, Brick has four children and one granddaughter.

Quotable: Brick recommends the military to young people. “It would teach how to deal with things,” he said. “When you go to boot camp, you have respect or you’ll be in deep trouble.”

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