“We Took A Vote To Die”: Fighting Side By Side With ARVN Rangers

Tom Kovach


Tom Kovach was born and raised in a Czechoslovakian immigrant family in Central Michigan. As a boy, he lived on a farm outside of Montague, Michigan, but once he started high school, his family moved into town so he could participate in extra-curricular activities. In history class, during his junior year of high school, a West Point admissions presentation sparked his interest. While at the Academy, Tom met his future wife, and upon graduation they were married. His first assignment was leading a mechanized, airborne infantry platoon in the 1st Brigade, 8th Infantry Division in Germany. In 1967, he deployed to Vietnam as a MACV advisor responsible for training Vietnamese Ranger Battalions. During the Tet Offensive, his camp was nearly overrun, but rather than evacuate, his team voted to stay and fight alongside their Vietnamese counterparts. During his second tour of duty, from 1969 to 1970, Tom commanded in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment prior to being moved to the 1st Cavalry Division staff. During this assignment, Tom planned incursions into Cambodia. After returning from his second rotation to Vietnam in 1970, Tom left active duty, and pursued a career in business until his retirement in 2007. In this interview, he discusses his experiences at West Point, in the Army, and in Vietnam. He discusses gathering intelligence about the pending Tet Offensive, noting that it was dismissed by the Intelligence Officer in the 25th Infantry Division because his source was a Vietnamese citizen. He credits the Military Academy with providing a great education and preparing him to live the rest of his life honorably.


name Tom Kovach
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Infantry
unit Advisor MACV; E Co, 508th PIR; Assistant G3 for Plans and Ops, HQ 1st CAV
service dates 1965 1970