Lieutenant Commander Barry McCool was the guest speaker at Monday night's Silent Wings Museum event honoring veterans.
McCool, a veteran himself, served two tours in Vietnam as a Marine, taking in part in twelve major battles. He then became a naval aviator, flying over 3,500 hours in five different aircraft, but his speech was about the reaction he received when he returned home.
"I've been spit on, I had fruit thrown at me, rotten vegetables, it was not a pleasant time to be in the military, coming home," McCool said. "We received briefings from senior Marine officers that we were not to wear uniforms off the base. We were to let our hair grow out on the transit from Okinawa and Vietnam back to the states."
The abuse McCool and the other soldiers faced was so bad that war seemed like an escape.
"It made me want to go back to combat. I signed a waiver to go back after three months stateside because I couldn't handle the rejection and the problems associated with being in the military," he said. "I felt more comfortable being shot at and being able to shoot back than being a member of the military here in the United States."
McCool says thankfully the times have changed. He feels the men and women coming home from battle today are treated with respect and adequately thanked for their service.
"They really understand and they really appreciate the sacrifice that our young men and women are making so that the United States and the people in the United States can enjoy the freedom you have."
McCool says people should go up and thank Vietnam veterans or the "lost generation of soldiers" as he called them, because many of them never were able to experience how much we appreciate their sacrifice.
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