Donald W. Bolton, Jr., Army National Guard, 1983-1991

Don Bolton served in the Army National Guard, 4th Battalion, 297th Infantry B company; his rank at discharge was Sergeant and his primary position was as a radio telephone operator.

Don Bolton served primarily as a radio telephone operator in the Army National Guard, 11 Bravo Infantry Company, 1st Sergeant.  He achieved expert status in hand grenade and rifle.

One of his most memorable experiences was during annual training when they had to maneuver in -75-degree (wind chill included) weather.  Another was training in Alberta, Canada just outside of Calgary.  “We had to dig foxholes.  You can’t do that in Alaska, all you can do is build up!”  He said that training alongside their neighbors (Canadians) was fun.  “It was all open territory; it was cattle country… we had to watch out for the cows and watch out for the cow pies.”

Mr. Bolton said, “It was always fun at the rifle range shooting ammo, blowing things up, when they let us!”  One of his more humorous times was qualifying for the M60 machine gun at the range in Anchorage.  The soldier he was paired up with was supposed to shoot out to the 800-meter target, but he only had an older pair of glasses and could not see it, so he asked if Don would.  When Mr. Bolton fired, he knocked the target down, but to his surprise, it popped back up again.  This happened several times until the M60 was out of ammunition.  Sergeant Wilson, the supply sergeant from Sitka (and a Vietnam veteran), was running the targets that day and laughingly told Mr. Bolton that since he had plenty of ammunition, he kept popping the targets back up. 

Another time at Fort Richardson, Mr. Bolton and a fellow soldier named Rinehart had to rescue some regular Army guys who had an accident with their Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) truck (a full tracked, articulated vehicle)- it was wrecked and wrapped around a tree.  Of course the Army National Guard was happy to help them out of their predicament!

He said that the helicopter pilots were mostly Vietnam veterans and it was always a good time to fly around with them.  They would do things that “weren’t the norm” on some of the flights. 

Regarding his overall military experience, Mr. Bolton said “Most of the time you just go with the flow… do as you’re asked, or you’re told, and things should go pretty smoothly.”