J.C. Pemberton tells the story of the year he spent fighting in Vietnam
In 1968 and 1969, J.C. Pemberton spent 366 days in a combat zone in Vietnam.
Mr. Pemberton was born and raised in Bridgeport, Alabama. He was drafted when he was 22 years old.
"Going there you knew what you were going into in a sense, but it was a different world than you ever thought," Mr. Pemberton said. "Training was good, but training doesn't prepare you for stuff like that."
After High School J.C. Pemberton started working and got married.
He said he knew early on that he would be drafted.
"It was scary and it scared her, but we just talked about it and I talked it over with my parents," Mr. Pemberton said.
He was drafted into the Army and served in the infantry.
"We were called a roving battalion. We were in the jungle, rice paddies for a month," Mr. Pemberton said. "Go up in the mountains for a month. We'd go back and forth."
On January 8th, 1968 he went to Vietnam.
"You'd have days and nights you couldn't sleep because there is something going on around you every minute," Mr. Pemberton said.
He told us the fighting was hard so were the conditions, the heat, the jungle, and the snakes.
He said he contracted Malaria four times, and his tour was extended for two days while he recovered from the jungle rot on his feet. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions in April of 1968, and was later awarded a Purple Heart. After the war, he stayed in the Army for a few more months and got out and came home to Alabama in August of 1969.
"We lost some good men there. I've been to the wall. I saw that and I saw some names on there. Oh, that hurt. That hurt, but I'm glad we got that wall for those guys," J.C. Pemberton said.
He left Vietnam forty-nine years ago. He's now seventy-three.
He says he thinks about the war in some way every day.
"I don't think anything like that will go plum out of your mind or your heart, but you can if you're strong I think you can push it back and not let it bother you so much," J.C. Pemberton said. "You know I'm not a nervous wreck. I can't sleep at night, but I can deal with that. I can take a nap in the daytime. I had to take a nap in the day time when I was working. So I can deal with that part, but I know guys who have a lot worse conditions than me."
J.C. Pemberton is now retired and spends a lot of his time in Florida these days.