I was 17 when I joined the Navy in 1965. My family was poor, and I was failing out of high school. Four years in the Navy felt like my only option.
I’d hoped to avoid ground combat by enlisting in the Navy, but within nine months of joining, I found myself in Vietnam.
During those long 13 months at war, the one good thing was the circle of friends I made, first as a hospital corpsman in an aid station in the jungle, and then onboard the hospital ship Repose.
The first …