SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Shortly after graduating from high school in Sioux City, Frank Stoos was called by his country to serve in the Vietnam War.
“I didn’t have a choice. Didn’t have any money for college and that’s what you had to do when you were 18, I guess. I turned 18 in May, and I got my draft notice in June,” Stoos told KCAU 9 News.
He served in the Navy in 1965. As the U.S. was entrenched in the Vietnam War, Stoos worked in the boiler room of the USS St. Paul, saying the temperature could get up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
“You go down to do your four-hour watch, and in five to ten minutes, your shoes would be soaking wet from sweat,” Stoos recalled.
After four years of service, Stoos came back to the United States where he received an unpleasant welcome at the Los Angeles airport.
“You’d get spit on and called names; baby killer, woman killer. And you know, it wasn’t my choice to go over there,” Stoos said.
But once he was back home in Siouxland, a message at the Siouxland Freedom Park reminded him just how lucky he is.
It says 58,000 died in Vietnam, [and] 34,000 of them never made it to their 19th birthday,” Stoos said. “Which is kind of… Nowadays, kids graduate from high school and they’ve got the rest of their life to take care of things.”
Stoos said after spending four years overseas, there was no doubt in his mind he wanted to come back to Sioux City after his time in the military ended. And while it was not his choice, he said he has no regrets about serving his country.
Wesley Thoene contributed to this story.