SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – The Vietnam War ended more than 45 years ago. But, for one Siouxland veteran, the memories are clear.
Sergeant Chuck Andersen is from Sioux City. He was a teenager when he and about 40 other men in his platoon were sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Only he and four other members of his platoon lived to tell about it.
“I’m right here on this picture.”
Sgt. Chuck Andersen, joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 18 years old. He served three tours in Vietnam, fighting a war he says “promised no tomorrow”.
“My old attitude was if it happens it happens. I guess,” Andersen said.
“You lose friends and the sad part about it is I know so many people on the wall, but I don’t know their real names. I knew my nicknames well we kind of tried not to get real close because the next [day] you could lose somebody,” Andersen said.
That somebody was almost Andersen himself.
“They always figured that the sniper was really shooting at me,” Andersen said.
November 2nd, 1967, was Andersens’ mom’s birthday and one day before his 21st birthday. It was also the day Andersen says he was spared. Trying to protect his friend.
“When I bent down Dayna took the round I don’t know I’ve always had to live with that too… how do you predict something like that… I put him on the medivac he was sitting on the edge and I just bent down… I had his rifle on his back I had him over my shoulder and his rifle and his pack. I put him down and I dropped his pack so I can get him in the chopper and bent down to pick it up and that’s when it all happened that,” Andersen said.
Andersen said he’ll never forget his time in Vietnam, especially in A Shau Valley.
“You knew you were going to A Shau Valley you wanted to give your soul to god. It was a death hole. We used to walk into the valley and say yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For I’m the baddest mother in the valley. (Laughs) That was our chant as we went in,” Andersen said.
“They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old age shall now weary them or the years condemn at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them,” Andersen added.
More than four decades later, Sgt. Andersen said he deals with post-traumatic stress from his time in Vietnam.
But, he said he’s grateful for his family and support groups that help him get through each day.