Grand Chute, Wis. (WFRV) – Little Chute’s Chuck Bongers can’t count the times he said his prayers; Both for himself and for others.
“My Mom told me to say (my) prayers and everything will work out so sure enough, I did,” Bongers recalled.
Bongers never knew in 1966, that soon he would be saving lives in Vietnam.
“Vietnam was going on but I didn’t know anything about it, so I was just going to let them draft me and my Dad said, ‘Don’t be stupid,'” Bongers said.
It was actually Bongers’ father who served as a medic in World War II who convinced him to enlist in the Navy as a medic at the Outagamie County Courthouse in 1966.
“I went over to the different branches of the service and I said to this guy from the Army, ‘What does this mean?’ And he said, ‘It means you’re going to be gone by the end of summer,'” Bongers said.
“So, I said to my dad, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Sign up for the Navy, don’t be stupid.'” Bongers said.
Little did Bongers know though, he wouldn’t actually be with the Navy for very long.
“I didn’t know that the Marine Corps doesn’t have any doctors or medics and so they take them from the Navy and they attach them to the Marine Corps,” he said.
Bongers was sent as a medic for the Marines in Con Thien, Vietnam.
With a two-pound Corpsman bag strapped on, Bongers estimates he saved close to 50 lives during his time there.
“Most of the time we were with the Marines and when we weren’t, we were fairly close by so you could see what was happening and so you kind of knew instinctively when somebody needed your help and somebody didn’t,” said Bongers.
It was those times, when someone did need help, that made Bonger’s time in the service all worthwhile.
“There was an exhilaration to it,” Bongers recalled.
“When you weren’t going to save someone you knew it, and you hung around long enough to say your prayers. But the exhilaration and complete satisfaction that you just saved someone’s life, those were some of the few very good days,” Bongers said.