Vietnam Stories: Memories don’t fade after half a century

For the Monitor
Friday, October 06, 2017

I was a 17-year-old high school graduate in 1964 with no direction. Rather than hang around, I joined the Marines, having my parents sign an enlistment waver.

I did the usual Paris Island Camp Lejune boot camp training and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, which was headed for Vietnam.

Our first mission was a vertical assault from a Landing Helicopter Platform ship to the target hill. While going up the hill, the Marine next to me was shot in the face and killed. After the mission I was assigned to recover his body and bring it to the landing zone for removal.

Over the next few months, this action was repeated over and over. I volunteered to join a new company called CAC (Combined Action Company).

We lived with the villagers and ran patrols in the day time and ambushes at night. We didn’t feel safe because the villagers always made noises at night on patrol. We never knew who was the good guy or the bad guy.

It’s been more than 50 years and I still remember. Recently I was diagnosed with PTSD, prostate cancer and heart issues due to agent orange.

The VA has awarded me a 90 percent medical disability rating.

Semper Fi.

John Casey lives in Dunbarton.