Retired U.S. Army Colonel Sam Floca is a sixth-generation Texan, as proud of his Lone Star State heritage as he is of his two tours in Vietnam in the First Infantry Division. One of his most prized possessions is the Texas flag flown at the Capitol in honor of the wounds he received in action and sent to him during his recovery.
As an infantry soldier, Floca was part of the core fighting force during the Vietnam War, and as a soldier with the First Infantry Division, he was part of a famed unit also known as the Big Red One.
Floca joined the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1966 and served as an artillery forward observer with armored cavalry, airmobile infantry, and Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP) units. Returning to Vietnam in 1968, he was the senior artillery officer with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division.
The First Infantry Division is the oldest division in the United States Army, and, consistent with its name and tradition, was the first Army division deployed to Vietnam. Within two weeks, its soldiers were engaged in battle, and during the next five years the Big Red One would see 6,146 of its soldiers killed and 16,019 wounded and 20 taken prisoner. As a veteran of the unit, Colonel Floca wears the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
Hear an extended interview with Colonel Floca at the Texas General Land Office Voices of Veterans project.