DVIDS – News – Veterans of the only Illinois Army National Guard unit to deploy to Vietnam present plaque to the Illinois State Military Museum

The Illinois State Military Museum's Armed Forces Day military vehicle exhibit May 18 included a special presentation by veterans of the 126th Supply and Services Co., based in Quincy, Illinois, at the museum in Springfield, Illinois.
The unit was the only Illinois Army National Guard unit deployed to Vietnam. The unit deployed in September 1968 and returned to Quincy in August 1969 for a parade and celebration.
Veterans of the unit presented a plaque to the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield with the names of the 183 soldiers recruited by The Hallmark Company in 1968. The unit was called “The Hallmark Company” because “they tried so hard to send the very best,” said Bill Waters, who served with the unit in Vietnam.
Of the 183 names on the plaque, 144 were deployed to Vietnam, with the Army selecting 39 soldiers for stateside deployment based on their military professional skills. In Vietnam, an additional 16-18 soldiers were withdrawn from the unit to meet needs in other parts of the theater. The core of the unit served in Chu Lai.
On their second night in Chu Lai, the base was attacked. “It made us take our defense very seriously very quickly,” said Jerry Rousch, a veteran of the unit. “We didn’t even have our weapons when we were hit. But we came together.”
To improve defenses, the unit traded two cases of beer for the use of a bulldozer to help them strengthen defensive barriers.
On display at the military vehicle display was a Jeep restored to look like “Boogie,” the Supply and Services Company’s 126th Jeep, driven by Dave “Boogieman” Neiswender. None of the 126th veterans could remember why Neiswender was nicknamed Boogieman. He is now retired and lives in Florida.
Waters said the business was part of the community in Quincy, Illinois, and included a lawyer, construction worker, barber, salesman and many other professions.
The 126th Veterans are proud that everyone who left Quincy in September 1968 returned home to their families. “We survived, thank God,” said Rousch. “We saw a lot of unpleasant things, but we survived.”
The unit's veterans remain close, meeting at least once a month at a restaurant in Quincy. They have also raised funds for veterans programs such as Honor Flight. “We are a good unit that wants to do good things for other people and help them,” Waters said.
The current incumbent 126th Quartermaster Co., still based in Quincy, carries the lineage and honors of the 126th Supply and Services Co.

Date taken: May 18, 2024
Release Date: May 19, 2024 11:17 p.m
Story ID: 471684
Hometown: QUINCY, IL, USA

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