Saturday, November 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
James Harrison Weathers, of Broadview, (photographed in the feature image), recently sat down to write about his experience serving in the armed forces. This is what he remembers, in his own words:
I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966, when I was 19 years old, and served until 1968. I didn’t want to go. I would be leaving home and everything I knew. But I had no choice. I decided to make the best of a situation over which I had no control, so I put my all into basic and Air Borne training at Fort Still, Missouri.
Being a paratrooper was rough at first. I sprang my ankle on my third jump. Practice makes perfect, though. Eventually, I learned from the experience of jumping out of airplanes.
As a soldier in the armed services, you learn to have a different outlook on life. You learn things like respect for your fellow man and what it means to have your buddy’s back.
James Weathers as a U.S. Army paratrooper. Weathers served in Vietnam. | Photos courtesy Jean Weathers
Some experiences I’ll simply never forget. I remember when I got shipped to Vietnam. I was working in the artillery, transporting supplies, driving big trucks back and forth. One day, I saw another truck get blown up by a land mine — the driver’s legs blown off.
That driver could’ve been me.
And speaking of buddies. You know, in the army you’re supposed to dig holes. I was too busy for that, though. One moment, I’m in my tent and the next … BOOM! I quickly jumped into my buddy’s hole with him. Soon after that, I was digging my own hole — lesson learned.
It’s been 46 years since I left the service and since I was that 19-year-old boy from K-Town on Chicago’s West Side. But I remember everything like it was yesterday.
While writing this, so many memories are coming back. My time in the service was rough, but I’m a better person today because of it. And I’m proud to be a veteran.
A lot of people served. Many sacrificed their lives and didn’t make it back home. We honor them. And for those soldiers currently serving, currently saving their buddies and sacrificing for their country— we salute you. VFP
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