In 1968, with the memory of the Vietnam’s Tet Offensive fresh, 19-year-old Marine Sam Gaylord entered service during the long and bloody Battle of Hué.
“We were outnumbered four-to-one,” he recalled during Louisville’s Veterans Day parade. “We won only because the Marines were better-trained. I’m proud of that.”
Gaylord was trained for jungle warfare with air support, not urban combat.
During the 28 days that was the Battle of Hué, Gaylord and his buddies saw combat in and around the city of Hué.
“We were looking for the North Vietnamese in the buildings,” he said. “Actually, they were dug into holes in the ground and kept coming up and attacking us.”
As the battle raged, so did the casualties. Allied forces lost 663 in that battle, and suffered 3707 wounded.
Gaylord was one of those wounded.
Losing both feet during a rocket ambush, he still considers himself luckier than one of his Marine buddies.
“We were sitting next to one another on a stoop, just talking,” he said sadly. “He got shot, right in the head, by a sniper a block away.”
After his tour, he was discharged and returned to Kentuckiana to study business at Indiana University. After college, he took a job as a claims adjudicator for the Veterans Administration. Along the way, he also wrote a book, “America’s UNFORTUNATE Sons and Daughters,” which chronicles his military experience.
Today, he’s glad Louisville is honoring veterans with a parade and fanfare. He said he is happy vets from the modern era are being remembered and taken care of.
“The country didn’t do much for us,” he said. “The Vietnam vets are trying to make sure these guys are taken care of, so they don’t have our experience.”
Category: Veteran's Day 2011