DENVER CITY, TX (KCBD) - Army veteran Dan Swanson entered the draft in 1967, during the peak of the Vietnam War. He says he remembers the sights and sounds of Vietnam like it was yesterday.
"You're scared all the time...not scared to the point of giving up. If you're not scared, something is wrong with you. You've got to put that fear aside and do what you were trained to do," Swanson said.
Swanson did just that while he was a helicopter gunner in Vietnam.
"I was trained as a tanker. They didn't have that many tanks in Vietnam so they figured the tankers were trained in automatic weapons so they'd make good helicopter gunners," Swanson said.
After his first tour was over, Swanson was sent back to the United States to attend Special Forces School. He takes pride in the time he spent in the Special Forces.
"It's a wonderful organization and it will take you to the limit," Swanson said.
Swanson was then sent back to Vietnam for two more tours and he says the memories of the battle are still vivid for him.
"Lost a lot of friends, a lot of friends. You don't leave anybody out there, you don't. That's one of the biggest things," Swanson said.
Swanson's unit was also one of the first deployed for Operation Desert Storm.
"You didn't know what was going to happen and you were completely for the most part self-reliant. You did have backup, but you just had to do it for yourself," Swanson said.
However, all of Swanson's military career wasn't spent on the frontlines. He served with the White House Communications Department for some time and had opportunities to travel the world with the Army.
"After being in so many different places and so many different parts of the world and see what it's like. You usually have to do that before you realize what we have here in this country and it really is the best country in the world," Swanson said.
No regrets and a clear sense of American pride radiate from the proud Army veteran.
"This is a great country and it's not free. We owe everything we got to God and this country," Swanson said.
Swanson has nine children and currently lives in Denver City where he owns a tire recycling plant.