TMCC Veteran of the Month - Feb. 2011
Art Galleries Curator and Art Professor
Nolan Preece served for 22 months in active duty, US Army. He was drafted out of Snow College, UT the fall of 1966 just before the lottery system was initiated. He took basic training at Ft. Lewis, WA and Advanced Infantry Training at Ft. Polk, LA, one of the main Army training camps for Vietnam called Tiger Land.
Along the way, having passed all the tests for Officer's Candidate School, Preece was sent to Ft. Sill, OK for Artillery OCS but dropped out part way through training. Preece says: "I was simply tired of the game of hazing and harassment that has to be a part of such training so I decided to take my chances in Vietnam. My father had been in the Philippines during WWII and was very worried, my mother contracted ulcers. I had a "whatever will be will be" attitude. It was an adventure plus I really didn't mind serving my country."
Preece waited for a month in a holding detachment for orders while stationed at Ft. Sill, OK. He had been trained for Vietnam so he was sure that was where he was going. When orders came down he was pleasantly surprised to find he was being sent to Germany and the 4th Armored Division. They needed replacements there.
Upon arriving at 4th Armored headquarters, Preece remembers: "I had never seen a tank before. They drove me out to the field where gunnery training was being held and said 'Drive that tank!' Everything was fine until it came time to hit the brakes and I didn't know they were power brakes. I almost launched the tank commander when he yelled 'Driver Stop!'" Preece was later promoted from driver to tank gunner where he operated the 105mm main gun and the 7.62 machine gun.
Preece says the most important educational thing he did in Europe was to spend time at museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madrid and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. "It laid the foundation for my later interest and studies in art. I made good use of my two week leaves by traveling a lot."
After a year in Germany, Preece decided he wanted to return to college when he got home. Someone suggested he might apply for an "early out" to start fall semester immediately at Utah State University so he applied and got it. He was suddenly 2 months shorter than he was scheduled for. Preece says, "It was difficult. I was in the military one day and a student the next, although happy to be home. I really wanted to catch my breath but studies had to be done."
Nolan suggests to returning vets at TMCC: "Get involved in the student activities you think you might be interested in. I volunteered for the "Campus Newsreel" at Utah State, it helped me feel connected to student life and introduced me to quite a few new people. Volunteer work can be very rewarding through service to others. Don't hold back telling people you are a veteran, it is something to be proud of, hold your head high."
Nolan Preece was born and raised in Vernal, UT. He is the TMCC Art Galleries Curator and Art Professor teaching Digital Photography, Portfolio Emphasis and Alternative Photo Processes.
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