‘I Didn’t Know Vietnam From Oklahoma’ – A Veteran Reflects On The Toll Of War

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5min 02sec

Veterans Day is Sunday, and all this week we’re hearing stories from Colorado veterans who participated in StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative in Colorado Springs earlier this year.

Gordon "Mike" Moore is a veteran who served three tours in Vietnam between 1967 and 1975. After graduating from high school in Joplin, MO in 1964, Moore, unable to find a job, decided to enlist in the Air Force. 

At Story Corps, Moore talks to his daughter, Trisha Montoya, about visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, challenges in communicating his experiences to loved ones, as well as the lack of understanding from civilians.

In this Interivew:

On enlisting: 

"I graduated from high school in '64. Could not find work. My buddy comes down and said: 'Let's go join the military.' I said: 'Okay.' I didn't know Vietnam from Oklahoma."

On the pervasiveness of the Vietnam drafts: 

"Lost a cousin. Tough times were had by all. It's just... I've been to the Wall. Very sobering."

On his return to the United States:

"Land in San Francisco, you got out of that uniform as fast as you could and you got into civilian clothes because the xxxxxxx were out there... I'm so proud... that I can wear that hat today and not get attacked."

On the way his memories from Vietnam impact him today: 

"There's a whole lot of stuff you [Trisha] don't need to know. People ask me why I laugh so much... And I just tell 'em, I've seen the ugliest things man could do to man... So anything short of that is pretty funny. It sucks, war does."

"And I point the finger at the military -- I hate to do that. But I was pretty much a laid-back guy, prior to. So, I'm assuming, that's what did it."

This conversation was edited from its original form in both audio and written for time purposes and clarity.

The Military Voices Initiative from Story Corps is sponsored in part by the Peak Military Care Network.