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Jasper County veteran to be featured on PBS Special - KOAM TV 7

Jasper County veteran to be featured on PBS Special

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

"My knees went weak. I'm like whoa, I'm really really going to war"

Ken Clark was on guard duty at Camp Pendleton when he heard North Vietnam fired on an American ship. He knew where he was going.

"By noon, I was leaving San Diego. I was on the back of a USS Pickaway, watching the United States disappear"

It took them 45 days to get there because it was somewhat of a secret movement.
 
"The colonel was on the PA system, we were all out on the fantail. And he says 'You men are probably all wondering where we're going. We're going to Vietnam. Unfortunately, some of you won't return, except in body bags" 

He was in the first wave of marines sent to Vietnam, he'll be sharing stories like these in a PBS documentary on Memorial Day, giving viewers a look at the time they spent there.

They arrived on the shores of Qui Nhon, and were greeted by children trying to sell them ice cream and squid sandwiches. They were moved to the jungle. And it went downhill from there. 

"We were an infantry unit, so we were always on the line. In the year that i was there, I got about four hours of free time to go into Qui Nhon once, and then probably 6 or 7 months later, I got another 4 hours. Other than that, I didn't get any R and R I didn't get anything. I just lived in the jungle, lived on the line, ran patrols, slept in fox holes, whatever"

He left Vietnam about a year later.

"I left in either late May or June to come home. At least my body did. Part of me is still there, you don't ever really leave once you've been there"

He was then sent to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to work as a military policeman. When he was 21 years old, he married his love Delaine. They're been together 52 years now and have two kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

"He's been a very caring, loving and respectful husband. And his family comes first" says Delaine.

She hopes after America hears some of those stories in the documentary, they'll be more thoughtful towards all the men and women who have served our country, just like her beloved husband.
He's not sure of exactly how much of his story will be broadcasted on the documentary, but you can check it out on May 28th at 8PM on PBS.

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