Scottsboro native  Raymond Brandon currently spends his days serving the community he grew up and raised his children in.

Brandon is extremely active in the VFW and works during the holiday season, as he has for the past 26 years, to bring joy to the faces of struggling families and children.
After high school Brandon went to Florence State Teachers College, now known as UNA and then to John C. Calhoun trade school where he trained to be a machinist. Brandon was working at Cornelius Company, when he was drafted by the United States Army at the age of 22.
On January 23, 1968, Brandon left Scottsboro for basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. Brandon then went to Fort Dix, New Jersey where he completed Advanced Individual Training to prepare him, or attempt to prepare him for his service in Vietnam. Following training Brandon returned to Scottsboro for 15 days and then reported to Oakland, Calif. During his time in California Brandon said that they were called into formation each day at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. where names of those who had to report to Vietnam were called. On the fourth morning, Brandon’s name was called. He was then sent to a holding area where he was issued jungle fatigues and clothing. Brandon arrived in Vietnam on June 23, 1968.
Upon arrival at  around 1 a.m. Brandon recalls telling a fellow soldier that Binh Hoa airport must be large because of all the lights down below. Those lights were not planes, he soon learned as the pilot announced that the airport had been attacked by the Viet Cong. The lights were tracers. Brandon recalls the smell as he stepped off the plane, the smell of something like sewage with temperatures in the 100’s and 100 percent humidity, Brandon said within a few seconds, he was soaking with sweat. The smell and the temperatures remained the entire 365 days he was there.
Brandon began his service on Advisory Team 118, MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam), working with scout dogs. Brandon and his dogs, Satan and Bolly, were used for reconnaissance. Brandon stated that these well trained dogs, who would travel with Brandon’s hands around their neck and throat would growl extremely low where only he could feel the rumbling of the growl  if troops were nearby. In instances where traps, trip wires or other danger was nearby the dog would lay down on the ground to alert Brandon. Brandon spent 363 days searching for enemy troops. One day was given to Brandon at the beginning of his tour for travel and one at the end. Brandon’s days were spent in jungles, rice paddies and in villages, sometimes five or six days at a time. Brandon said during those mission’s they would often prop against a tree to sleep for a few minutes. When enemy troops were spotted, it was reported to the 82nd Airborne. If big troop movements were present, it would be called in and air strikes were ordered, this happened often.
Brandon recalls seeing children used as decoys during the war, as well as many other unimaginable images that remain in his memory some 50 years later.
Although these men, who were ordered to serve the United States, with no choice in the matter at all spent 365 days in war, for pay of $155 per month,  upon arrival back to the states they were told not to wear their uniforms because of the opposition to the war. Approximately 58,220 American troops were killed during the Vietnam War. Brandon recalls every time he slept, he would wake up and repeat Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ”
Brandon feels it is extremely important for our children to learn about veterans and military service. Veterans are proud of their service to the country and often times live years with the emotional and physical aftermath after they return home.

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