WAKEENEY, Kan. (KSNW) – A WaKeeney veteran was just 18 when he became a squad leader in Vietnam, and it was something he didn’t talk about for 40 years.
Now, 50 years after the war he was able to share a glimpse of what it was like for him and the men he lead.
Myron Fabrizius says a buddy told him he had a 12-pack of beer and was headed to Ness City to sign up for the draft.
Even though Fabrizius wasn’t old enough yet, he went ahead and filled out the paperwork.
In no time, he says many of those who signed up headed to Korea, meanwhile he was sent to Vietnam.
“I had to call my folks,” Vietnam Veteran Myron Fabrizius said.
That was difficult for the young man, who was headed to war.
“We loved each other like brothers, I mean, we took care of each other like brothers,” Fabrizius said.
Within a few short months, Fabrizius was leading those “brothers” at war.
“I call them my boys,” Fabrizius said.
He said he made it clear as a squad leader he would never ask those boys to do anything he wouldn’t do.
“We are going to work together here, and I’m going to do my awful best, so that we all get home alive,” Fabrizius said.
Fabrizius knew that wouldn’t be an easy task, and the elements certainly weren’t helping their efforts.
“This was when we were over on a China Beach, where our feet were so rotten,” Fabrizius said.
Jungle rot was nothing compared to the enemy, and Fabrizius said they always knew where they were.
“We had a hell of a time, sometimes things got pretty rough,” Fabrizius said.
The soliders’ job was to go on search and destroy missions, and he said war comes at a high cost.
“I don’t know how many deaths I am responsible for, but I am responsible for some,” Fabrizius said.
He said several of his guys were badly wounded.
“I lost one man,” Fabrizius said.
He said the Wyoming native never made it home.
“The middle guy is Robert Mahler, he’s the guy who is on the black wall,” Fabrizius said.
Fabrizius said the soldier was hit with friendly fire and he was, as well.
“Had I not had a flood jacket on, I probably wouldn’t have an arm, or might be dead, I don’t know,” Fabrizius said.
He said although there were too many close calls to count, all these years later he’s finally able to share what it was really like for him and his boys, in the thick of the Vietnam jungle.
“I felt like I done the best for the American people,” Fabrizius said.
Those who did make it home were up for a fight for their lives.
Fabrizius says his squadron served in an area that was heaviest hit by Agent Orange.
He said about all those he served with have had heart problems or cancer.
He’s had his fair share of heart problems, he also has Multiple Sclerosis and was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.