Former Clinton Wildcat writes about Vietnam tour
Four Stars on a Blue Shield, a non-fiction book about a Clinton native who served a one-year com-bat tour in Vietnam is now avail-able at www.1stbooks.com/bookview/6694. It was written by Robert A. Bratt and is published by 1st Books Library, Bloomington.
Bratt is a 1953 graduate of Clinton High School where he played left tackle on the championship Western Indiana Conference Clinton Wildcats football team of the 1952 season. Bratt lived across from the high school at 124 South 4th street. The house was rented from Patsy Ruatto who owned a gas station in town.
Eight years after graduation, Bratt returned to Clinton High School after four years of Navy service and four years studying at Indiana State University, Terre Haute. He earned his BS in radio and television at ISU, graduating in 1961, and taught speech, social studies and dramatics at CHS for two years. He taught in the same classroom where he studied speech with Margaret McWhethy in the early 1950s. It was in the classroom building just east of the firehouse.
Then, Bratt returned to ISU where he earned his MS in guidance and counseling. After a 1964 graduation, he re-entered military service and served as an officer in the Air Force and the Army. He retired from the Army in 1980, after a 24-year career, is the Command In-formation Officer, U.S. Army Health Services Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he published the medical newspaper HSC Mercury, which won the Malcomb T. MacEchern national award for excellence in Army newspaper publishing.
Four Stars on a Blue Shield is Bratt's own story. He served a one-year combat tour in Vietnam in the same Army Division as Colin Powell and H. Norman Schwarzkopf; the 23rd Infantry Division, America] Division, at Chu Lai, up North in I Corps, on the South China Sea. His tour and that of Colin Powell, now Secretary of State, overlapped 11 out of the 12 months they served in Vietnam.
The story tells of his meeting and escorting USO show giants Willie Shoemaker, the jockey; Martha Raye, the comedienne; and Ernie Banks, third baseman for the Chicago Cubs. It also contains pictures and reveals the activities behind the scenes in preparation for the Bob Hope Show "Operation Holly" at Chu Lai, Christmas, 1968. Bratt was the project officer for the Bob Hope Show. His book contains pictures he took of Bob Hope; Ann Margret; Penelope Plummer, Miss World; the Golddiggers, a dance group; and Les Brown and his Band of Renown, at the Chu Lai Amphi-theater in the middle of a "hot" combat zone. Fifteen thousand troops saw the show.
Bratt also reveals he witnessed the rocket explosion at the 312th Evacuation Hospital that caused the unfortunate death of the only Army nurse to be killed by hostile fire in Vietnam.
The revealing story tells of rocket, mortar, and Viet Cong Snipper Attacks on America Division Head-quarters at Chu Lai, and out in the boonies at the fire support bases and landing zones in the division area of operations.
The former Clinton Wildcat also presents his observations and opinions about the war, our presence in Vietnam, who ran the war and why we lost.
Bratt has been an Instructor of Speech and Briefings at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis. He also worked his way through Indiana State University as a radio announcer on WMFT Radio, on Ohio street, in Terre Haute, and on WPRS, Paris, Ill.
He is married to the former Mary Ellen Unsinger, who is from Terre Haute Wiley High School and is also a graduate of Indiana State University. They now reside in San Antonio, Texas.
Bratt is a Korean and Vietnam War veteran.