Vietnam Veterans at Dakota Ridge High School

Back to Article
Back to Article

Vietnam Veterans at Dakota Ridge High School

Kacie Weikel

Kacie Weikel

Kacie Weikel

Lea Kipp, Staff-Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Vietnam War had a big effect on the country and the people who experienced it. Every year, a handful of veterans from Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1071 in Colorado visit Dakota Ridge to talk about their experience during the war and answer any questions students may have.

This Monday and Tuesday, April 22 and April 23, seven of them came to Dakota Ridge.

Three classes sat together in the auditorium in front of five veterans who were either in the Army, Navy or served in the Marines for The United States during the Vietnam War. All of them wore pieces of their old uniforms — tokens of memories from a war long since passed — which included jackets, hats, or little pins.

Before the event could start one of the Marine veterans was still missing, leading to former Marine, Bob Wyatt’s, opening joke, “We’re always losing the Marines,” which brought a lot of laughter in the room and loosened the tense mood which prevailed among the students.

Jim Higgins, a Navy veteran, took the lead during the meeting and told the students what this was about, calling on each of the other four vets to give a brief summary about their experience.

The first veteran to speak was Bob Wyatt, who talked about his experiences in a funny way, which made everyone feel more comfortable.

“I’m glad that he handles this situation so chill, because I’m not really sure how to act in their presence,” says Sophia Tavanello (10). “It’s also really hard to imagine that these guys have been in the war that we are just learning about in our class. It’s crazy.”

After all the vets shared their personal stories, it was time for the students to ask questions.

The question that elicited a more emotional response from the veterans was about the important memories that stayed with the men from the war.

“The moment when you look the enemy in the eye right before you shoot them. There’s this special look that all of them have. I will never forget that,” Stan Paprockj said.

No one said a word.

More questions were proposed about funny moments and what the vets did with their group when they were bored — most said that playing football or drinking beer would give them a lot of joy. “In the Marines, we had this game called FTN. The F stands for a certain word that I can’t say out loud in a school,” which made everyone laugh, “T stands for ‘the’ and N stands for ‘new,” Wyatt said, “so what we did was joking around with the new guys, and it was really funny because they never knew what was going on.”

Another Marine silently said to himself, “Yeah, it was a good time.”

Some of the speakers also passed around helmets, or special honors medals, allowing the students to see up close the things these soldiers carried back with them.

Kacie Weikel