I joined the Navy because my dad and uncle were World War II Navy and I wanted an equivalent to my civilian job as a fire fighter. I requested shore duty in Vietnam because the only reason I was in the service was that I truly wanted to be involved, to find out just why we were involved in a conflict halfway around the world. I was lucky to come home with no mental or physical scars. As senior enlisted man in charge of salvage and fire protection from Saigon to Vung Tau on the Saigon River, I had the opportunity to see a considerable amount of the southern section of Vietnam. I managed to go on helo strike missions, PBR patrols, MED-CAPs, an Army search-and-destroy patrol, and an artillery barrage. I fought more fires in a fifteen-month period, including ammo dumps, fuel farms, oil tankers, and a whole village, than I have in the past twenty years as a fire fighter.
What do I tell my three daughters? I tell them about the struggles for existence of people who have never known peace. I tell them of the unnecessary waste of human life, money, and natural resources. I tell them of the beauty of another land and of an entirely different culture. I tell them I’m not sure if the Vietnam War was right or wrong for the U.S. to be involved in, but it was a stupid war fought by politicians using the grunts as pawns, a war that taught all of us a lesson—if we commit to something, do it right!