“I was in the Navy and served at Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban crisis and served in active duty and reserves for 15 years and served mostly in the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Fleet. I was the supply officer on two different ships. It was a very gratifying time but it is a young person’s job. I remember standing on guard and on alert for what seems like days. I couldn’t do that now. It changes you. There was a time that I realized I would give my life for the country and I wasn’t afraid of it. Now I would be afraid of it. You see the graves and stories in graveyards and museums around the world. It is a high price. Memorial Day is for the departed on the battlefield. We don’t think about it very much, but it chokes you up when you do.”
“Some people are now calling it Grateful Memorial Day.”
“I served in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. I was a medevac and sent back the injured and wounded. I spent 6 months in Vietnam and 7 months in the hospital. I got shot and blown up.”
“How many Purple Hearts do you have?”
“I was shot at 1:00 in the morning. AK round went through my shoulder and we couldn’t get medevacs in. We took heavy casualties. Later that morning, an RPG went off next to me and three hours later I was medevaced. I felt guilt that I let my friends and fellow soldiers down and I wanted to fight to be alive and go back to the fight. You see so many veterans at VA facilities who didn’t even get a Purple Heart. That is sad, but more, especially Vietnam veterans, are getting recognized today.
People need to respect their freedom in this country because a lot of good men died and sacrificed their lives. I don’t do much talking about it, but I served 10 years and I would have stayed in and retired had I not gotten married. I loved the Army life. There is a unity that all soldiers share. The bravery you see on the battlefield with those young guys– you don’t find anywhere else. Any time you are in a war zone, you have fear and figure you are going to die anyway. If I am going to die, I am going to be ready to go. That is the way you have to look at it until you are through with your tour of duty. When you are done, you are going to have flashbacks and they will go with you until you die. There are very few days I don’t have flashbacks. I am awake at 1, 2, or 3 o’clock in the morning and it never ends. People don’t realize what we go through when we come back. We have a high suicide rate among vets because they are tired of dealing with it. Now they are starting to deal with the demons, but a lot won’t talk about it.”
“I graduated from the Citadel in 1964 and served 28 years in active reserve. Memorial Day to me is remembering my friends who died in Vietnam and my dad was on the USS Indianapolis during WWII. We never knew what happened to him. His watch on the bridge was over at midnight and they were hit right after midnight. It is not just one person who is killed. There is a ripple effect. Families who lose a family member in war are changed forever.”