Kimberly, Wis. (WFRV) – Semper Fi, it’s Latin for ‘Always Faithful.’ It’s also part of why Kimberly’s Dennis Van Hoof decided to head to the War in Vietnam after graduating high school in 1965.

“I thought, ‘Well, you know, I’ll try the Marine Corp but they’re not going to take me,’ because I was short, I was light, about 120 pounds,” said Van Hoof. “But I had to go in and try it.”

 It was at a U.S. Post Office in downtown Appleton in 1965, when Van Hoof decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corp.

“I guess I was enamored by that image; History and tradition was always a big thing and we focused on the heroes of the Marine Corps and the wonderful deeds that they’d always done,” Van Hoof recalled.

Van Hoof spent 13 months in Vietnam, mostly West of Da Nang as a fire team squad leader.

“I was always concerned about the people in my squad,” Van Hoof said.

Always concerned, always faithful. 

The mindset of Marine folklore that Van Hoof himself would continue long after the war.

“There’s still a sense of pride in terms of serving,” said Van Hoof. “And, that in the last couple of years has led to me being a member of Vietnam Veterans of America,” he said.

That sense of pride along with something else; Van Hoof lost his best friend Bob Jooston in the Vietnam War in 1967.

“(Bob and I) were in grade school, high school, we grew up together,” Van Hoof recalled.

Van Hoof hopes to keep the memory of Bob, and the thousands of other Veterans who lost their lives alive today by helping other Vets stay connected within his group, holding true to ‘Semper Fi.’

“That’s something that sticks to my heart and I’m sentimental that way. There’s a saying, ‘Once a marine always a marine,’ so you can’t resign,” said Van Hoof.