This November 11 will be the 99th observance of the holiday marking the end of "the war to end all wars." Unfortunately, since World War I there have been many wars, conflicts and battle that have injured or taken the lives of those who served in them. The stories of two veterans who served in the Vietnam War are told as a reminder of why Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada are observed.
‘Rocket hits were common’
“I flew high-ranking people around to observe the battles," says Dexter Lyons of Trescott of one of his missions while serving in the 62nd Aviation Company during the Vietnam War. "About the worst thing we ever faced was when we had to sit on something that was used to protect from flak."
He had plans for college but enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 just after graduating from Scarborough High School in 1969 and was stationed in Vietnam for one regular tour and two suspensions. "I wasn't old enough to drink alcohol when I signed up and still couldn't buy beer when I got home," he chuckles. "But I was very comfortable with my time over there."
"I wanted to be serve with Army Aviation, and within seven or eight months I became motor pool sergeant and then helicopter chief," he recalls. "I was the senior officer there, and they liked to pick my brains."
Among the places his company of about 110 enlisted men and 60 or 70 officers was stationed in Vietnam were the Phu Bai Combat Base, which was serving as headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division and where he "received quite a few awards," and the coastal city of Da Nang. "It was a great opportunity for me to be one of [the most veteran] officers there. When we were in the woods, we made our own flight strip out of steel."
"Rocket hits were common," he recalls. "It was usually over with before you could get into a shelter."
"I am very happy that I returned home safely," he adds. "Not everyone did."
Wounded while in the Marines
Steven Pressley Sr. of Whiting is another Lubec area young man who joined the military as soon as he graduated from high school in 1967.
"Sixteen out of 18 boys in my class in Lubec, and some of the girls, too, enlisted," he recalls. "I thought the Navy recruiter was out to lunch, so I joined the Marine Corps at age 18."
"I trained 13 weeks at Parris Island and then some more at Camp Pendleton before being flown over to Okinawa with the 3/7 [3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment] where my company broke up and two or three of us were sent to fill [holes] for whoever needed us."
"I got shot in 1968 and because of my wound was treated in Yokohama, Japan, and then at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston."
"Family helped a lot," he says of his recovery.
"I don't often participate in anything military like Veterans Day, but I still stay in touch with someone in Springvale that I met in boot camp," adds Pressley.