A Minnesota PBS Initiative

Fast Friends

Jim Fisher is a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Army Combat Engineer Unit. As a heavy equipment operator with the 1st Infantry Division, he says, "We built chopper pads, roads, airfields. Everything was done by us." At a USO one day during his first months in country, he recalls bumping into childhood friend, Eugene Heck, who was getting ready to go home, as it was his last day in Vietnam. They spent the day together and became fast friends.

Gene Heck served in the U.S. Army 1st Division in Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam. Both attended reunions in Kokomo, Indiana where tens of thousands gathered to swap stories. "Lots of stories and camaraderie," Jim says about the experience. When asked about their favorite songs in Vietnam, they both replied with "We Gotta Get Out of this Place." Jim says, "You’ve never heard that song sung until you heard a Phillipino guitar player sing it in an EM club." 

I'm happy to be here 50 years later and celebrate making it through it all.

The veterans' stories were recorded with the help of TPT's Minnesota Remembers Vietnam team at the 2017 Minnesota Veterans Day Event. Jim says about the event, "I'm happy to be here 50 years later and celebrate making it through it all."

Large group of people at an event with patriotic balloons and flags

Veterans, families and community gathered at the 2017 Minnesota Veterans Day event in Inver Grove Heights, MN.

Biographical Details

Primary Location During Vietnam: Phouc Vinh, Vietnam Vietnam location marker

Story Subject: Military Service

Military Branch: U.S. Army

Veteran Organization: Vietnam Veterans of America

Unit: 1st Infantry Division Engineer Unit

Specialty: Heavy equipment operator

Story Themes: Brotherhood, Combat Engineer, Coming Home, Veterans Day, Video, Vietnam Veterans of America

Previous Story
The Story Wall
Next Story
Return To Top