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Vietnam Vets in the Fire Service

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  • Vietnam Vets in the Fire Service

    Last Friday, I visited the Vietnam Wall Experience in Peoria, IL. It is a replica of the DC memorial. A childhood friend of mine was KIA; the only one killed from my hometown. They had tissue paper available to rub the name off. I located his name, rubbed it, took a couple of pictures and then I stood back and looked at this wall and was overcome with emotion. My lottery number was 98 in 1970 and had I not already had three knee re-constructions, I would have gone. To this day, I am conflicted. I don't know if I am sorry that I couldn't go or glad I didn't. We have had two Viet Vets on our department. One is still active with the department and the other retired and is battling cancer. They believe it was from Agent Orange, but the official position of the government has not changed. I digress. As I stood there looking at the memorial, I wondered how many vets came back from that very unpopular war risking their lives for South Vietnam and the U.S. and joined the ranks of our nation's fire service to once again risk their lives. What effect did your service in Nam have on your decision to join the fire service?
    I hope to get out to DC someday to visit the Vietnam Memorial for real and to see the WWII Memorial(my dad fought in both theatres). The travelling memorial was very impressive and I would recommend it to anyone. I hope Pvt. John E. Kellett knows that he has not been forgotten. God bless those who served. You have my undying respect.
    Peace.
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  • #2
    Cjief Reason,

    Let's see #98 in the July 1, 1970 Draft Lottery means you were born on November 20, 1951 ... right?

    My brother served our country in Vietnam from 1966 to 1970 aboard the USS Allen M. Sumner DDS652 and also in the 'Brown Navy' and he is now retired from both the fire service and law enforcement.

    I want to say a sincere WELCOME HOME to all who served.

    My birth defect/medical condition prevented military service.

    I also lost a very dear friend:

    PFC Michael J. Caporale USMC
    Quang Tri Provence 4-19-68
    Hometown; South Hackensack, NJ
    Buried: Springfield, Vermont
    The Wall: East Panel 50, Line 45
    Gone But Not Forgotten

    Piet Tosh

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    • #3
      I have yet to visit any of the memorials, whether on the road or in D.C. I haven't been able to bring myself to that point yet. I guess I fear the emotions that would come flooding out of me.

      I served with the 25th Inf and MACV Advisory team 64. Served a total of 16 months, from October "70" to February "72" as a radio operator for the 25th and the ARVN's while with MACV.

      Viet Nam had very little to do with my decision to become a firefighter. The choice for this job was because it was the family business and a job I knew I would love and always wanted. It was also one of the few entities that would hire a recently returned vet without judging them as being a little off center mentally, if you know what I mean.

      I hope that one day I will go and I hope I handle it with grace, but I doubt it. I've had friends in both areas that have died in the line of duty and they are individuals that will live with me forever. Actually I see it as soldiers and firefighters are not much different. We both deal with death and destruction as a way of life. We also save some and unfortunately lose some. I just hope that God will feel I gave back a little of what I took in Viet Nam by choosing this career.

      [ 09-09-2001: Message edited by: FireLt1951 ]

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      • #4
        To FireLt1951, Welcome home!

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        • #5
          I have been to the Wall...one of the things that amazes me is how quiet the area of the Vietnam War Memorial is, despite the air traffic flying in and out of DC. When one sees the mementos left at the wall, you can't help but get emotional and wonder what might have been for those with their names on the wall.

          I want to thank all of our brothers and sisters in the fire service and all the veterans who served in the defense of our country and freedom. God bless you all!

          [ 09-09-2001: Message edited by: Captain Gonzo ]
          ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
          Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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          • #6
            There are at least two that I know of in my department. I think we have more WWII Vets, actually.
            "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
            -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

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            • #7
              I wasn't born until after the war ended, however my father served in the war. He got out of the army in 1969 and went on to join the FD in 1975.

              My father-in-law was also in the war and became a paid firefighter after he came back.
              IACOJ Agitator
              Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

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              • #8
                I want to thank all of those who served... I love studying WWII and I want to learn everything I possibly can about it... People will swear when they talk to me that I was born in the wrong generation... While I don't study the Veitnam War and don't really support why we were there..... I STILL WANT TO THANK EVERYONE WHO FOUGHT FOR MY RIGHTS AND FOR WHAT YOU BELEIVED IN/DIDN'T BELIEVE IN... YOU DID A NOBLE THING AND SOMETHING YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO FACE AS A YOUNG BOY LIKE MYSELF... I JUST WISH I COULD MEET EACH AND EVERYONE ONE OF YOU AND SHAKE YOUR HAND AND GIVE YOU A SALUTE IN HONOR OF ALL YOU SACRIFICED FOR ME AND ALL OF THE OTHER KIDS OUT THERE WHO DON'T RESPECT WHAT YOU DID.... Everyone in the generation of my family before my father all helped in the war effort in some way... My grandmother and her sisters and friends were "Rosy Rivetters" and My great uncle jumped OMAHA BEACH ON D-DAY and was at BASTOGNE as well as the BATTLE OF THE BULGE... I LOVE HIM TO DEATH AND RESPECT HIM SO MUCH FOR ALL HE DID... one of my other uncles was WIA at IWO JIMA... HE TOOK SHRAPNEL TO THE BUTT AS THEY PUT UP THE FLAG on the hill..... THIS MESSAGE IS FOR ALL OF YOU OUT THERE AND ALL OF THOSE WHO HAVE DIED FOR THIS GREAT NATION WHICH WE LIVE IN... YOU ALL LIVE IN MY HEART AND I WILL DO MY PERSONAL BEST, REGARDLESS OF OTHERS TO MAKE YOU PROUD AND GLAD YOU FOUGHT FOR WHAT YOU DID....

                GOD BE WITH YOU ALL AND THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!

                Cadet SFC Adam Spencer
                Ozark HS-Ozark, Missouri
                U.S. Army JROTC
                Nixa Fire District
                Firefighter/First Responder

                on a lighter note but still with respect: IF IT WASN'T FOR YOU ALL ID BE SPEAKING GERMAN OR GOOK OR SOMETHING OF THAT NATURE!!! THANKS THANKS THANKS!!!!
                Adam Spencer
                Cadet Firefighter/First Responder
                Nixa Fire District
                Nixa MO 65714

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                • #9
                  One of my chiefs is a retired army major. He was a captain in the infantry during Vietnam. He was wounded when he took a AK-47 round in a spare magazine for his rifle. The magazine was in a bandoleer on his chest. He still has that magazine in his office. It is ripped wide open. He looks at that thing and wonders what would have happened if it was not there to take that round. He doesnt talk about the war much, only to say that he thanks God every day that he made it home...
                  My father was in the fire department when I came around in 1970. I think maybe for that reason he did not go. Both my grandfathers were in WWII. One in the South Pacific on PT149 and the other in the Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor AFTER the attack. The first one came back to the states to go to work for the fire department and eventually became a chief. He died in 1972 at the age of 56 from his third heart attack. My only regret is I didnt not get to know him before he died. My father has very fond memories of him. I really wish I knew him... thats all I got to say about that...

                  sorry for the Forrest Gump exit, but my keyboard is wet...



                  [ 09-10-2001: Message edited by: sconfire ]
                  Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

                  Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
                  North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
                  "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
                  www.legacyofheroes.org
                  www.firehistory.org
                  www.sconfire.com

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