David Clum of Mechanicville, a Seabee veteran of two Vietnam War tours, knows bigger isn't always better.
"It's funny how the little things can garner the most attention, questions and pride," Clum said, referring to a military award among more than a pocketful of medals and awards he wears on his Veterans of Lansingburgh Honor Guard uniform. Clum, a member of the Rev. Francis A. Kelley Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans in Troy, served as a member of Color Guards of various veterans organizations, including the Valley Falls Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Veterans of Lansingburgh, while carrying a M-1 rifle. He served as a Color Guard member in parades and ceremonies. Clum was honorary Grand Marshall of the Troy Memorial Day Parade this year.
After people notice the ribbons he earned during two combat tours with Mobile Construction Battalion One in Vietnam, they react with questions about the smallest one, the 5/16-inch Fleet Marine Forces Combat Operations Insignia with a little Globe and Anchor.
The Watervliet Arsenal and crane company retiree responds to the curious, saying, "I am very proud of the Globe and Anchor," adding that they signify his role in support of Marines in combat during the war.
"Only Seabees, Navy Hospital Corpsmen and chaplains who supported Marines in combat earn that award," he said.
Two years after he graduated from Hoosic Valley High School, he enlisted in the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army. After basic training at Great Lakes, Ill., he trained to become a construction mechanic at a Navy school in Davisville, R.I. Afterward he was assigned to Mobile Construction Battalion One. The unit deployed to South Vietnam in May 1968 for duty in the Da Nang and Freedom Hill areas in support of Marines.
Clum's main duty was as a heavy equipment mechanic. He maintained and repaired road construction equipment for 12 hours a day. Sometimes he pulled tower and perimeter guard duty at night. Clum says his base camps came under mortar and or rocket attacks a couple of times a week.
After the nine-month tour, Clum's unit redeployed back to Davisville for five months before returning to Vietnam for a second tour, this time in the Phu Bai area south of Hue. During the second tour he learned welding.
After his military duty, he worked at GE for a time before working at the arsenal.
Today, Clum can be found volunteering his time on repair projects around the Veterans of Lansingburgh Club. During his military duty, Clum also earned a National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars for combat operations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Good Conduct Medal, two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses, a Republic of Vietnam Unit Citation, two Civil Action Medals, a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device,
a Vietnam Service Medal with a Bronze Star, a New York State Conspicuous Service Medal and a Military Assistance Command Vietnam Certificate of Appreciation.