Real Stories of Vietnam from Athens area Veterans

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Monday, 05 November 2012 12:58

These Vietnam Veterans tell some interesting and touching stories. Their differences are remarkable. Some were under fire more than others, but no one was safe. From the perspective of years since their service, each reflects on how these experiences played a part in their adult lives after the war. Celebrate their service, and the service of others on November 12, Veteran's Day. See our archive for more interviews.

In the late 1960's, Richard Nicholson served  in the Army Signal Corp as an engineer in charge of the first military satellite communications. He served in combat zones, but was not subject to hostile fire and considers his military career a very important learning experience for his later career working in India in International Satellite Telecommunications.

Brian West joined the Marines after finishing college and served as an H-34 Helicopter pilot and co-pilot. His story of the end of a long nine hour day of flying when he was shot, put later stresses in his business career into perspective.  He continues to be in touch with other combat helicopter crew through a "pop a smoke" website.

Carl LaPalm served in 1971 and was severely injured during the "mad minute" when his patrol came off its duty. His moving story tells about not only his purple heart, but also about the many horrible things that happened to others. Mr. LaPalm came back from the war to become a carpenter, in spite of his injury to his hand, working on some of our area's largest projects including the Athens Regional Medical Center.

Bill Bowden joined ROTC while a student at the University of Georgia. He served in the First Aviation Battalion as pilot of a "Huey" Helicopter in Vietnam for a year starting September, 1967. He has many stories about his varied missions including the "bloodhound" mission and how the Viet Cong figured out a map of his base camp down to the bunk he slept in.