MOUNT VERNON — Reliable and secure communications are the backbone of any military outfit and as important as the latest weaponry. Larry Arnholt spent his time in the military teaching communication skills and conducting communications operations during the Vietnam War.
Arnholt grew up in the Loudonville area and went to Loudonville High School. Although he dropped out in 1960 before graduation, he is very proud of the fact that he corrected that later.
“I should have graduated in 1961,” he said. “And I did graduate from the Heidelburg-American High School in Germany. That was about 1975.”
Arnholt left high school to join the Army and served in Vietnam from 1966 through 1967.
“My uncle convinced me to join the military,” Arnholt explained. “He talked to me for about 15 or 20 minutes one day. He told me I didn’t have much choice. There weren’t any jobs out there and he talked me into going in.”
Luckily for Arnholt he had some previous experience that set the course for his entire military career. He had learned international Morse code when he was in the Boy Scouts.
“When I got in I thought communications would be great because I had learned international Morse code a few years back when I was in the Boy Scouts,” he explained. “So I went in for radio teletype and Morse code. In Vietnam, I started out in the 69th Signal Battalion. After I was there for about five months they changed it over to the 44th Signal Battalion. They just combined the 69th with the 44th.”
During his time in Vietnam Arnholt’s primary duty was to set up radio sites. And he also traveled all over Vietnam troubleshooting radio sites that had already been established. All of these were vital communication links for the combat effort in the country. Although this would take him out into the field he was never really in a combat situation. Arnholt had to stop and think for a second if anything exciting happened to him during that time.
“I guess about the most exciting thing was when I was at Danang,” he said. “We got bombed a few times but other than that there wasn’t anything really exciting that happened to me while I was there.”
After his tour of duty in Vietnam, Arnholt spent much of his time teaching international Morse code and radio teletype.
“I was in for 20 years and five months,” he said. “I was a sergeant first class when I left.”
During those years Arnholt saw some big changes in the way the military communicates.
“The biggest thing was about the time I left, in 1981,” he said. “That’s when they started using satellite communications. And now they don’t even use international Morse code anymore. They still use the teletype, though.
“And I had a super crypto clearance, so I did a lot of cryptology, too.
“I think it was an interesting career. I spent a lot of time in Germany while I was in the military. I spent seven years there, three years the first time and four years the second time. I spent 15 months in Korea then came back to the states for three months and then went to Germany for three years. Then back to the states and volunteered for Vietnam in 1966. Then I got married in 1967 to Priscilla Brown.”
Arnholt came back from Vietnam in 1968 and then volunteered for Germany again. After coming back from Germany he went to Fort Gordon, Ga. and spent his time there teaching.
“Then I got promoted and they had to transfer me out of there,” he said. “My rank was too high to do that kind of thing. I went out to Fort Sill, Okla. in a combat communications unit where I learned a little bit more about combat communications.
“Then I went out to Fort Lewis, Wash. That’s where I retired from.”
At his retirement ceremony, Arnholt was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his years of service.
“I was very busy out there,” he said. “I held 3 E8 positions. I was the division support command communications NCO, the training NCO and S2 NCO. I think that’s why they gave me the MSM.”
Since Arnholt retired from the Army he has kept himself busy. He has held positions as a general manager at a general store, an orchard foreman at an apple orchard and 15 years at the Developmental Center. He now spends his time driving for the Veterans Affairs and serves as a crewman for the Honor Flight.
“And I just have to say that I have a daughter, Etta Baker, who served in the Navy for nine years,” he added. “And I am so proud of her.”
One other event in his military career was his invitation to participate in the Headquarters & Headquarters Company 9th Division Support command Dining-In Ceremony. This is a traditional ceremony designed to fete those who have made outstanding contributions to the service. Arnholt was asked to narrate the traditional history of the 9th Infantry Division Support Command.
“I’ve kept myself busy and had a good time,” he said.