“My Parents Would Not Want Me To Be Out Here”: On An Observation Post In Vietnam

John “Jack” Toomey


Judge Jack Toomey grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, and was drafted into the Army in 1966. After Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he deployed to Vietnam in March, 1967. His first night in combat was March 31 to April 1, 1967 during the Battle of Ap Gu, part of Operation Junction City, in which 609 Viet Cong were killed. A rifleman at Ap Gu, he eventually transitioned into being an ammo bearer, assistant gunner, and gunner for the M-60 machine gun before becoming a squad leader in the Weapons Platoon. After returning from Vietnam, he became a lawyer, eventually serving as a judge in Suffolk County, New York. In this interview, Judge Toomey talks about his childhood, his military training, and his tour in Vietnam. He describes, in detail, his first time in combat during the Battle of Ap Gu, and seeing Lieutenant Colonel Al Haig the morning after the battle. He explains the differences between operations in various types of terrain, and about how he led his new Soldiers. Finally, he talks about his legal career. In particular, he discusses the Suffolk County Veterans Court, where he serves as the judge, and how volunteer mentors help veterans get their lives together after running afoul of the law.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Camaraderie Courage Leadership Military Techniques Morale Returning from War Wartime Decisions
interviewer David Siry
date 10 July 2017


name John “Jack” Toomey
institution Stony Brook University; Hamline University Law School
graduation year 1972; 1976
service Infantry
unit A CO, 1st BN, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1ID
specialty M-60 Machine Gunner
service dates 1966 1968