“I was 18 years old when I went to Vietnam. It hard to explain the things that happened there; it’s hard for people to understand all the death we saw. Even these many years later, I still relive some of those experiences. Over and over again I relive them. Those friends and I went through boot camp together, and their faces are still vivid in my psyche. There was a brotherhood, a camaraderie we had with each other: I watched your back, you watched mine. That’s how it was. I remember one village we went into. There were sixty-five of us in the beginning, but only 14 came out. So many people died that day. So many I will never see again. Those memories will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“It was just after my 19th birthday that I got hit: April 11, 1968, during the Tet Offensive. They flew me out to Bethesda Naval Hospital and I was scheduled to have my leg amputated, but on the morning of the surgery, the doctors came in with X-rays and said, ‘Something happened during the night. We’re going to be able to save your leg.’ You see I’m still walking around on it. I still march on it. Yes ma’am. And I’m proud of being a Marine. Yes ma’am.”