- Associated Press - Monday, February 16, 2015

LAKE CITY, Ark. (AP) - The last month or two that William “Butch” Herman served in the Vietnam War were the worst.

“Because you would think ‘I went through all this, I don’t want to get wiped out now,’” the 72-year-old Batesville resident said.

The experience has since inspired Herman’s great-nephew Peyton Archer, 14, of Caraway, to learn more The Jonesboro Sun, reports (https://bit.ly/16LZRra ).

The project began after Archer’s teacher at Riverside High School asked the seventh-grader to write an essay about a veteran who served during wartime. The first person who came to mind was Herman.

Peyton thought it was “pretty neat” when he first learned of Herman’s service and grew more impressed as he heard more of his story. It led him to writing a letter to Herman thanking him for his service.



“I took it as a privilege because my uncle is the only person I knew that’s been in Vietnam,” Peyton said. “I wrote that letter because of it.”

Herman considered it an honor since he has not heard many people thank him for his efforts in the Vietnam War. He said it was different today since people make an effort to thank all veterans.

“I was flabbergasted (when I received the letter),” he added. “I was really impressed. I thought he did a superb job.”

Because of the letter, Herman gave a military patch and two medals, including a Purple Heart that he received during the Vietnam War. He traveled to Lake City on Friday to deliver the items to Peyton.

“I keep them by my nightstand so when you walk into my room you can be seen them and when I wake up I can see them,” Peyton said.

Herman received his draft letter in 1965. He was living in California when the draft board in Osceola sent him the letter saying his neighbors and friends had nominated him for the honor. He wanted to know who those neighbors and friends were.

“(My first thought was) wow because I knew immediately where I was going: Vietnam,” he said. “I was 25 when I was drafted. I was the old man of the bunch because most were 18 over there.”

From October 1966 to October 1967, Herman served as a combat infantryman in the 1st Air Cavalry Division. It meant he conducted air assaults by jumping out of hovering helicopters to storm into villages.

“I have an air medal for making 25-plus assaults in a year,” he said when asked how many assaults he made.

He escaped those assaults uninjured. His lone Purple Heart was earned when the lead soldier stepped on a land mine during a long-range reconnaissance patrol.

As Herman recovered from injuries to his stomach and neck, he served as an awards and decorations clerk who studied each battle afterward to decide if anyone earned a medal or recognition due to it.

The whole time Herman’s thoughts were thousands of miles away.

“You were thinking about home and if you would make it,” he added. “When I laid down over there and looked at the stars, it looked just like it did here.”

___

Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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