Master Sgt. Jess Johnson Recalls His Time In Vietnam

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DALLAS -- Master Sgt. Jess Johnson of Dallas was just 18 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

“I enlisted because to me, it was bullying by China and Russia against a small country who wanted independence and protection,” Johnson said.

With little training, Johnson became a medic in Vietnam.

"The worst day probably would have been when the platoon hit those land mines in the day, morning and night. I had enough medical supplies for four people, but I didn’t have enough for the next 10. And they wouldn’t send me more medical supplies because the ground fire was so heavy. So I just remember doing the very best I could, using my boot knife and then cutting people’s shirts or pants. We didn’t have duct tape at that time. I wish I had that, but trying to preserve as much of that blood as I could to keep these guys alive," he said.

Johnson returned home and discovered how unpopular the war was.

“What I remember was how much life had changed in America. The music, the dress, the people, the attitudes; and what happened was a man at the airport, as I was getting ready for my flight, pushed me and called me a 'baby killer.' I hit this guy so hard that I know, if he`s still alive, that he still remembers me because his nose is now at a 90° angle," Johnson said. “You have to remember this war was 50 years ago, and the demographic of 70-75 % of Vietnam vets have passed away. That means all those stories are gone. I`m very happy be alive," Johnson said.