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Hometown Hero: John Black

John Black became a Navy corpsman to get money for college. But he grew up under fire, including the loss of a friend in Vietnam. He later joined the Army Reserve and spends his days thanking vets and sharing his experience with future military officers
GREEN BAY, WI. (WFRV) Senior Centers are a must stop for Seargent First-Class John Black, U.S. Army (Ret). He likes to personally recongize any military veteran any place he finds them. That's been a continuing mission during 24-years in the U.S. Army Reserve and eight-years in the U.S. Navy.

"My brother in law had been a navy corpsman, my older brother Joe Black was a corpsman. So I wanted to be a corpsman," Black recalls.

Black enlisted in 1964, as a way to earn money to attend The Ohio State University. After duty and training at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina, Black saw action in Vietnam, where he says he grew up quickly...underfire.

"The corpsmen were being shot. In fact I was only there a short time when my best friend was killed. That was difficult," Black said, holding back tears. "The corpsmen were saving the lives of those marines and getting them back into action. Of course the enemy, the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese didn't want that."

Upon returning home in 1967, Black never dreamed Vietnam veterans would battle public opposition to the war.

"We were told not to wear our uniforms, which was unusual. Because you had to wear a uniform even on leave because you're under orders," he recalled.

But Black says after 9-11, public opinion would about veterans would turn around.

"It's absolutely common for anybody, if they know you've served, to thank you for your service. And we appreciate that," Black said.

So, Black sums up his feeling about all veterans through a quote by the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific Director.

"A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her own life," he read from a small magazine clipping he keeps in his wallet.

Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story
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