PITSBURG – On Veteran’s Day, Franklin Monroe students got a glimpse of what Vietnam was really like from someone who served. U.S. Army veteran Gaylen Blosser addressed the students and brought a slide show with numerous photos showing the conditions and the people he served beside.
Rick Ingold, history teacher, gave the history of Veteran’s Day and explained that on Nov. 11, 1918, 11 a.m., an armistice was signed to end World War I. Ingold said, “Today we gather together to celebrate Veteran’s Day across the United States. A day set aside each year to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, bravery and sacrifice for the common good.”
Blosser shared he was 19-years-old when he arrived in Vietnam. Many in his faith and family were conscientious objectors. “I had no problem with that,” said Blosser. “Whatever your church teaches – practice it all. Don’t pick out just one thing.”
“Many of you won’t be veterans,” said the bronze star recipient. “Veterans are no more Americans than those that didn’t serve. Don’t ever feel like you’re less of an American.”
Blosser took the students on a journey from when he first put on his uniform to when he came home. He shared the trials he faced while he served. “Fifty years ago right now, I was in Vietnam,” he told the students. “There were no computers, cell phones or internet. I knew the day I got there that I was going to be there a full year. That full year was longer than the time from then to now. It was such a long time.” He said he went 10 months without talking to his family or his fiancé and then he only talked to them one time during that year. “Looking back on it, I feel bad for my parents because it had to be much harder on them than it was me.”
Blosser served as a radio operator, but said he didn’t realize how dangerous his role was at the time. He later learned the life expectancy of radio operator during a combat battle was 22 seconds. His pack weighed 100 pounds and the enemy would target the soldier with the squawk box and antenna.
He believes the lessons he learned in Vietnam translate well for students today. “Our schools are really good here. The thing I want to tell, especially athletics, but I think this goes to academics, too. When you’re tired and you think you need a break and need to come out of the game – there’s a whole lot more in the tank. You’re body is an amazing thing. When you think you’re tired, you’re really not. When you’re 19-years-old and you’re out in the middle of a jungle and you’re in a battle and you have a 100 pound pack on your back, you’re tired and it’s 110-degrees and your buddy is wounded, you pick him up and carry him. You’re never too tired. Your body can give you a lot more than you think it can.”
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