UDALL, Kan. (KSNW) – A Udall native says he hopes the American people never forget what veterans endure.
Retired Chief Petty Officer Michael Walker was working at the State Hospital in Winfield while he was going to college so he said he knew a little bit about medicine.
“You fight for the person standing beside you, or the one laying beside you,” Navy Corpsman Michael Walker said.
Walker said he’ll never forget the sounds of a warzone.
“It’s so deep even after all these years,” Walker said.
He said the screams he heard overseas were eerily like the ones he heard after the Udall tornado.
“It brought back some pretty terrible memories, and I think that’s part of the reason I did what I do,” Walker said.
It’s hard for Walker to put the bond he had with his comrades into words.
“The fellowship just binds us together,” Walker said. “It’s just something you feel in here (points to heart).”
Walker cared for Marines as a Navy Corpsman.
“My job was to keep them alive, and I would do the damndest I could to do that,” Walker said.
They all called him ‘Doc’.
“I never was upset about the extent of an injury,” Walker said.
He said it was key to stay positive.
“I damn sure sent a lot of them home, that wouldn’t have been, and that made me feel good,” Walker said.
He also treated Vietnamese civilians, as he worked on many MEDCAPS. He said the villagers were always very thankful for the treatment.
“Where I would go out in the villages and treat, mostly little kids,” Walker said.
He said when they returned, they didn’t get a welcome home.
“When we came home, our country didn’t treat us very nice,” Walker said.
He said a teenage girl spit in his face.
“Coming from the heartland of the country, you know, we didn’t do things like that in Kansas,” Walker said.
After the war, Walker also spent time in Japan where he worked with a Marine Air Wing before returning to the United States.
Walker served for three decades, so he was still in service when the first Gulf War broke out.
“My unit was sent to Behrain,” Walker said.
The Chief Petty Officer was the most Senior Corpsman at the time, so he served as an ombudsman.
He stayed in the states and helped keep the lines of communication open between Marines and their families.
“People don’t understand what it’s like, unless you’ve been there,” Walker said.
He is still helping others heal.
“The idea all started around we wanted to help other veterans and give them a place to go,” Walker said.
He and some Marines formed what is now known as the Kansas Veterans and Family Reunion, a place where veterans can come to heal.
“I’ve seen it in the faces of veterans that have come there,” Walker said.
He said that’s why they are preparing to roll with the 33rd annual event.
“Most veterans don’t talk about what they saw and done, and there’s a good reason for that,” Walker said.
He said gathering each year allows them to do that with people who understand the battles they’ve fought and lived through.
“As soon as you put that uniform on and are willing to stand up and die for what you believe in, you’re a hero,” Walker said.
You can celebrate these heroes, at the Kansas Veterans and Family Reunion. It’s set for June 18-20 at El Dorado State Lake.