A story by Joseph Rocque Jr. from 1971
I am a Vietnam vet, and like most vets, I don’t much care to talk about the things I saw or the things that I went through. But there are a few things that I would like to share with the younger generation.
I was 18-years-old when I was sent off to war and, as I recall, my mother and father were the only ones at the August airport when I left; and they were the only ones at the Augusta airport when I came home. No police escorts, news media, or parades. I recall a lot of states sending buddies of mine nice letters and in some cases, money, as a bonus for serving. I came back from Vietnam in 1971, and as of today, the state of Maine has never acknowledged my service.
I can, and have, gotten over that, but there is one thing that I will carry to my grave. When we left Vietnam, we spent 18 hours in the air before touching U.S. soil. I will never forget how happy we were to be home. I also will never forget the horror of seeing all the protestors there to greet us; they made us feel like the war was our fault.
But the worst part was when they started spitting on us. I still today tear up when I talk about it. Despite all I went through in those 13 months, that was the worst. I was honorably discharged as an E-6 SSG with 11 years active duty, and am considered 100% disabled because of PTSD.
Things have changed today and I am more proud than ever for our young men and women who have and who are serving us.