Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - United States Air Force
We were a very patriotic family. We believed in our country and our flag, so when called upon, we served. The first two years at Penn State were mandatory ROTC for all young males. I chose the Air Force. I knew I wasn't going far with my athletic career but developed a strong love for aviation. After those two years, I went to pilot training. They put us through faster. Normally its 55 weeks and we did it in about 47 weeks. In April of 1967, I was deployed to Vietnam.
Vietnam was very interesting. When you fly at night and it's a clear night, you can almost see the whole war. You can hear it on the radios, those guys calling for help and going down in the helicopters. Seeing the flares, and knowing that it is bad.
The truth is, the people at home didn't know much about the war and didn't pay any attention. Then when their kids started getting drafted, that's when they paid attention. That's when the demonstrations started, but it was too late as far as I was concerned. Those kids will always have vivid memories. Even after the war, those kids are still there. Some are in wheelchairs, some are still in and out of the VA a lot. That's why the traveling [Memorial] Wall was, and still is, so important to us. It's a healing process for some of the guys who haven't healed.