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  • Writer's pictureJack Hager

Half-a-Century Ago?????

I did not anticipate it, nor see it coming.

But as I looked at the date to check something it hit me…

Fifty years (half-a-century!) ago today I boarded a freedom bird and flew home from Vietnam. A few hours after landing I was honorably discharged after serving four years in the Army.

U of SV 68

Fifty years!

Begs again the question – what is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body???

But…seriously…Here I am just after basic training:

uniform Jack

I do not regret the time I spent in uniform; specifically the 11 months I spent in Vietnam. Of course I wasn’t a believer at the time; not sure what difference that would have made regarding whether I would have enlisted or not. They say hindsight is wonderful and/or 20/20; but hindsight is distorted and a waste of time anyway.

I was in the Army Security Agency (but we “weren’t in Vietnam”…long story…attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry as a track commander (in the turret behind a .50 caliber machinegun).


I don’t tell war stories (or prison stories for that matter), but I will share part of what happened on July 9, 1969.


Our plane landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. They shut down the aircraft…and we looked out the window at perhaps 100-150 anti-war protesters who had been allowed (apparently) to assemble.

We could not hear them, but they did not look like a welcoming crowd…

More Air Police were brought in to make a corridor through the group, and, after about two hours, we were released from the aircraft.

Filing down the stairs we heard all kinds of obscenities, disparaging yells, and other garbage.

The first “round-eye” I saw was a stereotypical blonde California girl…drop-dead gorgeous…screaming “How many babies did you kill in Vietnam?” over and over.

As I got closer I simply glared at her.

The older Marine behind me was more quick-witted than I…

He responded, in a dead-pan voice, “Only as many as I could eat.”

Perhaps not “politically correct” nor even “nice,” but it did shut her up.

Welcome home, soldiers.

Again, I wasn’t a follower of Christ, so after receiving my discharge papers I went into San Francisco and lost the next few days…

But I was home…

Though the next few years were filled with me acting out on my hatred of America, constant alcohol and other drug use, and crime; the sovereignty of God preserved me until arrest…confrontation with the Gospel…the working of His Spirit through His Word…and the ultimate prison break – salvation.

He continues to “fulfill His purposes for me” and I am thrilled to be His, and to be along for the ride.

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