Teamster Valor


Andy Kach was knocked out of his guard tower when mortars began pounding his position. He was wounded but unflinching in his movements. Kach carried another severely wounded soldier to safety and returned fire, using his machine gun to end the enemy’s mortar attack.

That was August 28, 1969, in the coastal flatlands of Phan Thiet, Vietnam. Forty-five years later in the Michigan suburb of Brighton Township, Kach received long-overdue recognition for his heroism when he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

“I was surprised and gratified when I learned I would be receiving the medal,” Kach said. “Henry Parker, the captain of my unit, had told me at a reunion that he was trying to recover lost paperwork to get me the award.”

Kach, a member of Local 372 in Detroit, worked as a Teamster for more than 24 years and currently works as a driver-trainer for the state of Michigan. At a ceremony earlier this year, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with a “V” device for valor. The award was presented by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.

Though it took more than four decades, Kach was honored to accept the medal on behalf of the men he served with, nine of whom traveled to Michigan for the award ceremony in March.

“It was really great to see all of them again,” he said.

Daytime Attack

Kach was just 19 years old when he was blown out of the guard tower by enemy forces. He served in the B-Battery Fifth of the 27th Artillery, often called “The Professionals” and “The Bulls” because it endured constant enemy attacks. Kach was serving guard duty at Landing Zone Sherry when his unit came under heavy mortar fire.

“The firebase was attacked every day, but usually at nighttime. We were surprised because this was a daytime attack. But we were all disciplined and knew what to do. I had been there for months so after a while you get over the fear and you don’t think about it anymore—you just take action and do what needs to be done,” Kach said.

After the war, Kach returned to Michigan, working at a Teamster warehouse job before working the next 24 years as a newspaper driver for the Detroit Free Press. After a four-year strike at the newspaper, he took early retirement and became a driver-trainer for the state.

“It’s an honor to receive the medal. But there were 70 other guys at the firebase when that attack happened and they all deserved the same award,” Kach said. “Everyone did what they had to do that day.”