(KCBD) - To this day, Charles Findley remembers his time in service like it was yesterday.
At just 26 years old, Charles entered the Vietnam War. Today, he still carries the letter he wrote his parents when he came home, the memories fresh in his mind.
"Most people didn't realize when you were in the jungles, the mosquitoes were about an inch long I think, and then you'd find a leech about six inches long, and then after all the heat and humidity sleeping on the ground, eating sea rations, then there was the enemy, and they were always there," Findley said.
Now, decades later, he has a new memory to add..
"It's the first time I've been here. It's a little tough," he said.
Now 73 years old, this is his first glimpse at the Vietnam War Memorial. A wall lined with names of his fallen brothers.
"I'm just thankful I'm not one of those 58,315," Findley said.
It's a bittersweet feeling for this grandfather, who is meeting one of his own grandchildren for the first time, while their father follows in his footsteps.
"He is so dedicated, and Karen, my daughter-in-law, was a Lubbock Police Officer for seven years, and they are both so military, so patriotic America."
He's a proud father, carrying a piece of his son with him.
"The picture here is when I was in Vietnam in 1969-70, and I always told my son when he went to Iraqi freedom that he was with the Texas National Guard at the time, take this picture with him, carry it, and I wanted him to bring it home, and come home safely. While he was there, he found an oasis in Iraq and he got a picture made of himself as close as this one right here," Findley said.
Today, he says a prayer for the soldiers that never made it home, and for his son, continuing the fight for our freedom.
"I saw more soldiers that should've been given a medal of honor than you could ever imagine," he said. "The heroism of the American soldier is the reason that this country's great, and I thank for all my brothers that left it on the line for us."