(WFRV) – It took this weeks’ hometown hero Glen Zimmerman almost three decades to find the words to describe his time in Vietnam.
“Shot 99 out of 100 and so, that kind of sealed my fate that if you’re that good with a rifle, you need to go use it.”
Nineteen-year-old Appleton native Glen Zimmerman was a good shot.
When he was drafted into the Army and sent to Fort Polk for basic, the sharpshooter was a sure thing for the war in Vietnam.
“First day in Vietnam getting off the plane, we were watching them load body bags with dead soldiers onto a cargo plane on the other side of the runway which was a real shock to a 19-year-old from Appleton, Wisconsin. That’s when it really hit me that this was real, this was no goofing around anymore.”
Based in an area called Xuan Loc for most of his 15 months, Zimerman was a machine gunner’s assistant, making sure his companion was always supplied during firefights.
But there was a bright spot during his time in the Army. Thanks to some inside information from a Sergeant, Zimmerman was able to write his girlfriend Linda back home, and take some time away from the war to marry her in Hawaii.
“He told me, that’s the way to do it. If you’re really in love with her and you know that’s the one, go to Hawaii and get married and get it over with. I said, ‘Okay, I guess that’s what I’ll do.” Because I knew she was the one.”
Not only was Linda the one for him, but she was also the one that Zimmerman credits for helping him through some of his toughest times after the war.
“She gave me enough pushes, where she said, ‘You’ve got to get out and do something.’ You can’t lay around and think about all of the things that happened over there because there were a lot of bad things that happen over there that roll around in your mind.”
It took Zimmerman almost 27 years to find the words to remember and reflect on his time in Vietnam, but he did so in this poem; A Long Time Ago, In a Land Far Away.
Watch Glenn read his poem, A Long Time Ago, In a Land Far Away, below:
That poem was inspired after a trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
It’s why he stays involved in the Veteran community today, making sure others remember those names and those like Zimmerman who fought so long ago.
“That was very emotional for me because I know names on that wall, I served with those guys. All of those things, I had to put together and put it in words. The more you get it out, the better you feel about it. If you keep it inside it just hurts, so I talk about it whenever I can.”