×

Vietnam vet Stanley Clingerman helps other veterans

Submitted photo Stanley Clingerman, who served two years in the U.S. Army, stands next to a display case of service medals at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Youngstown.

YOUNGSTOWN — A large part of Stanley Clingerman’s responsibilities during his guard duty stints in Vietnam was walking around in the dark, but nowadays, he’s been spending time making it possible for hundreds of veterans to get around more freely.

“We’re giving away 300 bus passes for veterans who need transportation, many of whom are homeless,” the 75-year-old U.S. Army veteran said.

Last week, Clingerman was among those at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic on Belmont Avenue who distributed the passes as part of an annual program that allows veterans in need to use Western Reserve Transit Authority buses for free to get to and from important local appointments.

He also used the occasion to share some of what he experienced during his two years in the Army that included about eight months in Vietnam.

Perhaps the Beaver Township man’s most vivid memories of his time in Vietnam were nightly guard duty, in which he was in total darkness and “couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.” He usually was alone when guarding the compound near Bien Hoa, to which he had been assigned and where he was tasked with walking around the path.

“The only thing I had going was I can’t see them, so maybe they can’t see me,” he said.

Before being sent to Vietnam, Clingerman had enlisted in the Army on Jan. 12, 1966, and after receiving specialized artillery and other training, he joined the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he spent close to a year. He was honorably discharged in September 1968 after having accidentally broken his leg.

Clingerman, whose other primary duty was to pack parachutes, was instructed to contact whoever was manning the compound’s nearby guard tower if he saw or heard anything suspicious. One night while on duty, an enemy artillery shell exploded 50 to 100 feet from him, he said.

“All I did was yell, ‘Incoming!’ Everyone headed for the bunkers. It was very scary,” he said.

Clingerman said he later broke his leg and ankle by standing on a conveyer system that held several pallets of artillery shells next to a forklift and accidentally stepping between them.

After his discharge, Clingerman returned home and worked a few months for the former Impex Plastics Co. in North Lima. After that, he resumed working for his father’s contracting business, where the younger Clingerman performed everything from painting to roofing to home repair work.

Military service runs in Clingerman’s family. His paternal great-grandfather fought in the Civil War; his brother, Kermit, a World War II Navy veteran, was aboard the USS Franklin Aircraft Carrier; and his brother, Richard Clingerman, who served in the Army during World War II, saw anti-aircraft warfare in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany and elsewhere.

Even though Stanley Clingerman has been a civilian for several decades, his ties to fellow veterans remain strong and vibrant. For many years, he’s been secretary and treasurer for the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 135 of Youngstown.

The local chapter’s primary goals include helping Vietnam veterans seek full access to health care, fostering a positive public perception of those who served in that war, identifying the full scope and range of military-related illnesses and injuries, and serving the community.