“I don’t want to forget Vietnam.”

My name is John Hooker.

I’m 64 years old. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. At the age of 9, my parents and I moved to a farm in New London, Ohio, which is between Cleveland and Toledo.

I’m a 1966 graduate of New London High School. I started active duty in the Marine Corps at the end of June 1966. I served in Vietnam from March 1967 to March 1968 with F 2/7, weapons platoon. I humped an M60 machine gun. In my unbiased opinion, there’s nothing better than a Marine grunt.

In November 1967, I was shot in the back by a North Vietnamese sniper.

On the night of March, 27, 1968, I was injured as a result of “friendly fire.” An Army artillery battery was night firing. They were off on their coordinates.

From the time of my injuries in March 1968 to October 1971, I was hospitalized. During the three and a half years I was in the hospital, I underwent 35 operations.

To say I was fortunate is an understatement. While I was in the hospital, to me what was the norm,  every day was being surrounded by men (much worse off than me) who had lost legs, arms, some were blind, and there were others who were either paralyzed from the neck or waist down. These wounded warriors that I just mentioned have been etched in my mind. It’s a wonderful way for me to keep in mind how fortunate and blessed I am.

But for the grace of God, my name could be listed among the almost 60,000 names that are engraved on “The Wall.”

I don’t think I was lucky. I’m convinced almighty God was watching over me. He has and continues to bless me every day. I’ve been blessed with so many good things because of my injuries. One day I tried counting them and I was awestruck.

God has blessed me with a wonderful, loving wife, Cindy. I think Cindy is the most unselfish person I know. Cindy is very supportive of me as a person, a Vietnam vet, and a recovering alcoholic. I found out the hard way that from the use and abuse of alcohol, that I can’t safely drink. With God’s help and the program of AA, I’ve found a way to stay sober, one day at a time!

God has blessed us with a son, Tom. The doctors had told me that because of my injuries and all the operations that I’d had, that I probably wouldn’t be able to father a child. God had other ideas.

On December 30, 1983, Tom was born. Tom is married to a lady named Missy. They live in Delaware, Ohio.

One of the things my injuries afforded me was the privilege of being a stay-at-home Mr. Mom. At the time Tom was born, Cindy had been a teacher. When her maternity leave was about up, we decided to see how it would work out for me to take care of Tom after she went back to teaching. I have to be honest, I was a little scared. I’m an only child and prior to Tom, I had never as much as changed a baby’s diaper…but I soon learned. What a privilege it was for me to have a part in helping to raise my son! A privilege a lot of fathers will never know, sad to say, there are some father’s who don’t care.

I feel my Vietnam experience was an excellent one. I don’t dwell on Vietnam, but I don’t want to forget Vietnam either. I feel that I’ve adjusted to what happened to me and gotten on with the business of living life to the fullest. I think one of the biggest things I took from my experience in Vietnam was how precious and fragile life is.

A proud American, former Marine and Vietnam vet ~ John Hooker

Welcome Home to all my Nam vet brothers. Thank you all for your service ~ Semper Fi