North Jackson vet regrets not going to fight in Vietnam

Submitted photo During his time in the Army, Randall Wilson, now 68, of North Jackson, learned to drive a truck and was sent to Germany, where he spent 18 months after basic training transporting goods.

NORTH JACKSON — At a time when the potential of being sent overseas caused sidespread anxiety for potential draftees in high school and returning service members were met with disdain and anger, Randall Wilson said he regrets not being able to go to Vietnam.

“There’s so many people that went over there and lost their lives. Even though I did serve, I felt like I didn’t give it everything. I mean, I felt like so many went over there, gave their lives, and I know a lot of people that came home,” Wilson said. “It’s just like a part of me was like, ‘why weren’t you there?’ I mean, I was in that time period.”

Wilson explained that entering the military just seemed like the “natural thing to do” as the draft ended a year prior to his service. He said he picked the Army because a lot of his friends were in it at the time, although he added later that he wasn’t really positive why he chose it when he could have been in any other branch of military service.

Wilson said at the time when the draft was happening, he didn’t think much of it, figuring he’d prioritize his education and wait and see what would happen. However, his biggest concerns arose after he enlisted.

“What concerned me more, after I enlisted, was when my friends started coming home and I saw all the protests and how they were disrespected. So many people being disrespected, spit on,” Wilson said. “And everything that you read about, the returning soldiers, where they would change their clothes in the bathrooms. They would hide their uniform instead of wearing it like they do today, proud; that frightened me more than anything.”

Wilson added that a frightening moment came when he got to his permanent base in Turkey.

“At one minute they were saying you’re going, and the next minute you’re waiting,” Wilson said. “I think it was the impatience of not knowing what was going on even though I did know, people would talk about it, come back, and some of my friends, they just weren’t the person they were when they left.”

During his time in the Army, Wilson learned to drive trucks and was sent to Germany, where he spent 18 months after basic training transporting goods.

Wilson keeps hard at work nowadays, driving a truck for the company that he has been with since 1993. He also farms and travels, including a trip to Cancun, Mexico.


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