Veterans Day is Sunday, and all this week we’re hearing stories from Colorado veterans who participated in StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative in Colorado Springs earlier this year.
Veteran Dutch Schultz speaks with his friend Donna Guthrie about serving as a Ranger Lieutenant during the Vietman War.
Through StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative, Schultz recalls some of the impressions the U.S. military may have made on the Vietnamese people, his worst day during service, and losing friends he had made in Ranger training.
In this interview:
On first impressions of Vietnam:
"I went out and got in a huey, and [the pilot] takes off. And he flies across these rice paddies, just above the rice paddies, and the people out working there have to jump out of the way into the water, because he's just flying right at them, and he goes up and over the palm trees and would chop off some of the tops of them...he was clearly hotdogging...
"So we got out to this village and he's figuring out where he's going to land, and there's a water buffalo. And he says, 'I don't like that guy,' and he scares the water buffalo off, runs it into a fence. Then he pops a smoke grenade to tell which way the wind's going... catches a [hutch] on fire.
"...no wonder we're have trouble in Vietnam winning the hearts and minds of people...."
On the worst day he had in Vietnam:
"Usually I was in a Jeep, but on this day I was in a dumptruck, and the military dumptrucks are huge... and this little kid decides to run across the road... and we hit him.... I knew that we'd run over him, and probably the truck stopped with the wheels right on top of him. Just the feeling--I get out and look down, and fortunately, I hear this cry... He'd been hit in the head, he had a concussion, but other than that, [the injury] wasn't bad...
On losing friends:
"The best thing about Ranger school was you got a Ranger buddy.. and Dennis and I got to be really good friends... He was really good at what he did...
"One year to the day I arrived in country... I'm sitting there reading the Army Times, and deaths of the last week, and there's Dennis... He was killed in the Cambodian invasion...
"When I look and think about people, I had lots of classmates who were killed in Vietnam, but that was kind of... What I would say... We signed up for it. Dennis was a draftee who had gone to OCS."
This conversation was edited from its original form in both audio and written form for time purposes and clarity.
The Military Voices Initiative from Story Corps is sponsored in part by the Peak Military Care Network.