Colonel Joe Abodeely's

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Joe Abodeely's Military Biography

joepic3a.jpg (24415 bytes)Joe was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the infantry in 1965; and after training at Fort Benning and Fort Polk, he went to Vietnam in January 1968. He served as a combat unit commander of 2nd platoon, delta company, 2nd battalion, 7th cavalry of the famous 1st Air Cavalrycopter1.jpg (11248 bytes) Division. He led his men through the Tet Offensive of 1968 and conducted combat operations around Hue, the A Shau Valley, and the area called "the street without joy". During Tet, the Marines had been under siege for 78 days at a firebase called Khe Sanh where continuous North Vietnamese Army artillery and rocket fire had kept the defenders underground in bunkers and trenches. On April 8, 1968 the Los Angeles Herald Examiner reported that the 1st Air Cav and "(Joe) Abodeely and his platoon formed the 1st Air Cavalry spearhead of the 20,000-man Operation Pegasus drive that broke the Communist grip around Khe Sanh in a week-long drive that covered 12 miles of jungle, hills and minefields." Joe’s commanders wrote in his officer evaluation report that "...Lieutenant Abodeely has unerring knowledge of basic infantry tactics. In addition to his exceptional knowledge, Lieutenant Abodeely has illustrated uncanny ability in land navigation and map orientation. This unique bit of perception appeared to give him an unusual ability at times to diagnose the enemy’s intentions before they fully materialized. Lieutenantartillery1.jpg (19789 bytes) Abodeely plans in detail and his execution is equally meticulous. He closely supervises and provides timely advice to the decisive members in the platoon....I have observed, on numerous occasions, Lieutenant Abodeely’s exceptional ability to react with equanimity and force under conditions of duress. He is a fearless leader and an inspiration to those who follow him. His primary concern, secondary to the mission, is the welfare and protection of his men. Case in point, I watched him move into an open area, under heavy fire, to pull two wounded men to safety..."

joepic5a.jpg (27930 bytes)None of Joe’s men were killed while serving under his command. The year 1968 had the most casualties of the entire war, and the 1st Air Cav had the most casualties of any division--about 5,000. The 1st Cav was the most lethal unit in Vietnam because of all of its firepower and helicopters assigned to it. It was the first full division to be deployed to Vietnam; some of its soldiers were the last to leave; it had the most awards of the Medal of Honor; and it was the only division to receive a Presidential Unit Citation.

After Joe’s tour of duty, he rotated "back to the world" and joined the National Guard. He became a commander of a military police company which went to active Army posts and assisted the MPs there in their duties. After law school, he changed his branch to Judge Advocate General’s Corp and became a JAG. Joe transferred from the Guard to the Reserve and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Joe was assigned to a U.S. Army Reserve school to teach armor tactics at the Command and General Staff school in Reno, Nevada. joepic1a.jpg (22572 bytes)He also taught military law to Arizona State University R.O.T.C. cadets. At one time Joe was assigned as the Staff Judge Advocate to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas--a unit that was part of the Army’s Rapid Deployment Force to the Persian Gulf region. He later served as the Chief, Law Branch, Military Police Operations Agency at the Pentagon. He was promoted to Colonel; and in that position he helped formulate Department of Army policy on the use of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the use of military police in various operations, including domestic terrorism, and the Military Customs Program and the reporting and investigation of war crimes during Operation Desert Storm. Joe’s decorations include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Vietnam Service Ribbon with Silver Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a Palm, and others.

*The helicopter and the artillery photos (top, right) are from The History of the Vietnam War by Douglas Welsh, Copyright © 1981 by Bison Books Limited.

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