Bruce Halbach - Sergeant
Bruce Charles Halbach was born on October 4, 1949 and grew up in Stacyville, Iowa, one of 10 kids in Ron and Hildegard Halbach’s big family of 5 boys and 5 girls.
He graduated from Marian High School in Stacyville in 1967. He then attended Iowa State University from September 1967 to the end of fall quarter 1968 before returning home to work at the Stacyville Cooperative Elevator.
His brother Gervin, said "College just wasn't for Bruce at the time. He came back home to work and sort some things out before deciding what to do. I suggested that he enlist in something like the Air Force so he would have more options in the military, but he chose not to."
Bruce eventually was drafted and left for the U.S. Army in 1969. He was trained in tank warfare and reached the rank of Sergeant. He was very smart and at that time the Army moved those kinds of people up the ranks very quickly. Bruce got his orders to report for duty in Vietnam and left for that assignment on June 1, 1970.
His brother said, "When I took him to his flight at the airport, I had this eerie feeling that he wouldn't be coming back.”
In Vietnam, Halbach was switched to helicopter duty as an observer. On November 19, 1970, he was out on a helicopter reconnaissance mission in Thua Thien, South Vietnam.
Enemy fire downed their helicopter and Sgt. Halbach and pilot Franklin Hamm were killed when it crashed. Halbach and Hamm were members of C Company, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division. He was 21 years old.
Gervin describes him as just a "young farm kid trying to find his niche". In high school, Bruce played basketball and ran track and kept busy on the farm. He maintained a very laid back attitude. When he got drafted, he wasn't upset. He just figured he had a duty to serve.
Gervin had enlisted in the Marines in 1963 and served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966. He said, "It was a little different for me. I enlisted with a couple of buddies and our unit pretty much served together when we were sent to Vietnam. I saw Vietnam as an adventure and a duty. It was different for Bruce. He didn't have the "buddy system" because of being drafted and then he got switched in his duties once he got to Vietnam."
Gervin doesn't regret having served in Vietnam and he is sure Bruce didn't either. The family and the community took Bruce's death pretty hard, but Gervin noted, “We were a generation that learned to bury our dead and move on – now, of course, it's been over 35 years.
“Naturally, we still think about Bruce from time to time. I was a little emotional when asked about him because it brought back some memories. But I think it's wonderful that Iowa State is honoring their former students that gave their lives in Vietnam. It's a nice tribute to their lives and service to their country."