Back in the United States, the country was being divided by the war, with racial injustice and prejudice, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the riots of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It was a difficult time on both sides of the Pacific.
Against that backdrop, American soldiers of all races fought together.
Due to distance from our airfield, we had to fly to the Air Force base in Ubon Thailand to refuel before returning to Vietnam.
Although my aircraft was hit several times, I was never shot down during my two tours in Vietnam.
When I left Vietnam, I gave all of my clothing and boots to our house boy. Brandriet, Watertown, SDDave would be so excited about the upcoming celebration.
He would want to share this time with fellow Vietnam Veterans, in particular his friend Jim Elkins from Watertown, SD, and his friends from the VEVA (Vietnam Era Veterans Association) group here in Pierre.
Thank you Governor Daugaard and to all the staff and volunteers who are working on the "Welcome Home", and the Vietnam War Memorial Dedication, scheduled for September 2006. I joined the Army because it would pay for two years of college and then I would serve three years of active duty.
For a farm girl with three sisters it was a great way to get a college education. I have wonderful memories of working long 12-hour days, six days a week, with one weekend off every 8 to 10 weeks.
Nonetheless, I recall instances of racial tension between white and black soldiers in the 2/60th. Any time trouble seemed to be brewing, he had a smile and wit and wisdom that would defuse most any situation.
When I heard Adams got killed I thought what a waste I joined the US Marine Corps in 1969; I just graduated from Freeman high school.
I believe I have come to terms with the war and have used this in a positive manner. There are very few Americans and very few servicemen who have served in a combat zone and realized this experience. I was accepted into flight school after OCS and trained in the OV-1 Mohawk surveillance airplane, a twin-engine turbo prop built by Grumman.