Fort Worth, Texas
I served in Vietnam from 1966-67. I was 18 years old, a Hispanic from the poor side of Fort Worth. I joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966. Our combat unit was a rotating unit that stayed in the jungle during my time in VN. We did two of four operations in the Khe San region. We knew that the tree line was the best place for an enemy ambush and we learned that we had night vision during a full moon. I spent my birthday out there.
On the night of 13 July 1967 I was with Corporal McConnell from Burleson Texas (he’d just come back from leave) when we were hit by a rocket propelled grenade. He was hit in the spine and I got it in the head. I awoke to protect him in the battle best as I could.
Homecoming! What a homecoming. We were the most hated veterans according to the media and the protestors and we were protested and spat on and cussed at and called names. There was no help from our government, no rehabilitation to help with PTSD and my wound was not called a Traumatic Brain Injury (even though it was).
I now am a member and past commander of the Fort Worth Chapter 1849 of the Military Order of the Purple heart and work to find donations and support to help our young veterans coming home, to help them look for ways to get back to the life they knew before the war. This is never possible for the combat vet, though, and all we can do is learn to cope with a new kind of life.
I am and always will be a U.S. Marine.