Bloomington resident Dennis French served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam from January 1970 to January 1971 as a specialist 5th class, or Spec5, assigned to the 554th Engineer Battalion.

His role consisted of developing needed drawings for the construction of two roads, QL 13 and QL 20, as well as assisting surveyors as needed. The roads existed, but primarily as hard pack dirt, and rerouting and improvements were necessary for supply and troop movement. Three months into his tour, French was asked by his headquarters company commander if he could also take over the job as unit photographer.

During the first six months of his tour, his unit worked building the QL-13 from Lai Khe, about 40 kilometers north of Saigon, to An Loc on the Cambodian border. For the second half of his tour, French was moved farther north, to the foothills of the central highlands, to continue work on QL-20, which connected Saigon and the highland resort city of Da Lat. At that time he was based at Bao Loc.

French, who later taught at Illinois State University for 25 years, took these photos during that time. 

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