The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 29, 2013

After 40 years, Vietnam memories still strong

(Continued)

"China has ditched socialism and gone in favor of improving their economy, and the same with Vietnam. The Berlin Wall is gone. So essentially, we won," he said. "We could have won faster if we had been a little more aggressive about pushing our ideas instead of just fighting."

Warner, 72, was the avionics officer in a Marine Corps attack squadron when his fighter plane was shot down north of the Demilitarized Zone in October 1967.

He said the communist-made goods he was issued as a prisoner, including razor blades and East German-made shovels, were inferior products that bolstered his resolve.

"It was worth it," he said.

A native of Ypsilanti, Mich., Warner went on to a career in law in government service. He is a member of the Republican Central Committee of Washington County, Md.

A DIFFERENT RESPONSE

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Duane Johnson, who served in Afghanistan and is a full-time logistics and ordnance specialist with the South Carolina National Guard, said many Vietnam veterans became his mentors when he donned a uniform 35 years ago.

"I often took the time, when I heard that they served in Vietnam, to thank them for their service. And I remember them telling me that was the first time anyone said that to them," said Johnson, of Gaston, S.C.

"My biggest wish is that those veterans could have gotten a better welcome home," the 56-year-old said Thursday.

Johnson said he's taken aback by the outpouring of support expressed for military members today, compared to those who served in Vietnam.

"It's a bit embarrassing, really," said Johnson. "Many of those guys were drafted. They didn't skip the country, they went and they served. That should be honored."

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