Vietnam veteran reflects on his time overseas and coping with the return home

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When George Sanders showed up to sign up for the draft, a woman told him his notice was already in the mail.

Sanders was part of the Americal Division and says they went where they were told to go.

He still suffers from the effects of Agent Orange and so much more because of his time at war.

“This picture here was the 196th reunion. This was captured years after a fateful day in 1969. This shows the daily activity we had on March the 26th.”

He still has this daily log from when his squad was running point.

“The majority of that day, I do not remember,” said Sanders. “That is the day I received my Purple Heart.”

Sanders does remember what it was like when they first saw a North Vietnamese soldier coming their way.

“We had thrown hand grenades to try to neutralize him.”

Half of Sander’s company was killed in action or wounded that day.

“Charles Walker is one of the guys in our company.”

Sanders says as Vietnam raged on they lost so many more.

“They all got caught in this ambush,” Sanders recalled.

Richard Fife from Concordia never came home to Kansas.

“He actually died of shock while he was on the operating table.”

Sanders says some who did make it home faced new battles.

“It was really sad to lose him.”

Dan Watkins (Courtesy: George Sanders)

The man smiling in photo was Dan Watkins. Watkins overdosed once they returned.

“I watched your back, and they watched my back.”

Sanders says that’s the way it was when they were in the jungle, and he wants the families of his fallen comrades to know their sacrifice will never be forgotten. He recently left his 196th shirt at the Vietnam Wall.

“Two of them signify months I served in Vietnam.”

Sanders says after being away, they were treated when they got home. It includes gifts like a quilt from the women of Quilts of Valor.

“The sacrifice that these women put out to comfort us returning veterans.”

Sanders says he has suffered for years with post-traumatic stress disorder and that’s why he encourages others who have served or are serving, who may be struggling being in crowds of people or those who are startled by loud noises, to go to the VA hospital to be checked out.

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