TMCC Veteran of the Month - Sep. 2009
I was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1949. After high school graduation in 1967 I was facing the military draft like so many other 18 year olds then. My parents talked me out of the Army and Marine Corp so I tried getting into the Navy before my Army draft date but they could not meet that deadline. The Air Force could. After basic training I went to Security Police, aka Forces, school. I then guarded Minutemen II missile sites in central Missouri for a year when I volunteered for Vietnam in late 1968. I arrived in South Vietnam in November 1968 and immediately volunteered for duty guarding an Air Force radar site just south of the DMZ, overlooking enemy North Vietnam. The radar we were defending was responsible for guiding in air combat support missions in the area. Thus, we were a constant target for NVA/Viet Cong artillery, rockets, mortars and snipers.
In August 1969 I was wounded by mortar shell fragments during a sniper attack on our position. My wounds were enough for medical evacuation from the war zone to a military hospital in Japan. After recovery I was sent to a nuclear missile base in southern Arizona to guard Titan IIs. While stationed in Tucson I came to a moral conclusion – I could no longer support the American war effort in Vietnam with my military service. I had seen too much death and destruction in what I then saw as a futile, misguided war. So I turned in my weapons, told the NCOIC my reasons and was immediately arrested and charged with mutiny. I spent three months in the brig and eventually was released from active duty with an honorable discharge in May 1971. I received a Purple Heart medal for my Vietnam wounds.
Currently I am in my twenty-sixth year of teaching, with 18 of those years at TMCC. Among the many history classes I instruct is my favorite "The History of the Vietnam War."
My advice for returning veterans coming to college is as follows:
You are probably going to feel like a "stranger in a strange land," especially for combat veterans. That's okay for now. It's a very common experience for a number of reasons. You are older than the average student, generally you have a more mature work ethic and you've been in a combat zone. You have seen things that most of your peers have not. You'll probably be alienated from what your peers find important. Seek out other veterans whether in class, at the TMCC Veterans Upward Bound or the VA's Vet Center. Only they understand and can help you re-adjust to civilian life. In time, with support and some difficult psychological work you will be able to function normally again.
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