PULASKI, Wis. (WFRV) – Jim Lobas was born in Green Bay, with no silver spoon in hand. 

“Our favorite song was Creedence Clearwater Revival with ‘Fortunate Son,’ and if you know the lyrics to that,” Lobas recalled.

The day after he graduated from UW Madison with an English degree in 1967, he got his draft notice.

“I must’ve hung out with the wrong crowd. There were six of us who roomed together our last year at Madison in a big old house on Regent Street. And, five of us were bartenders at the College Club, which was a popular place, and four of us ended up in Vietnam at the same time,” Lobas said.

Originally trained as a tank driver with the Army, Lobas spent ’69 in Vietnam doing something a little bit different.

“Ironically, I ended up in a unit that didn’t have any tanks, which was interesting, and I ended up in a psychological operations battalion. Winning the hearts and minds of the people, that was actually our slogan. We were part of a pacification unit, and our job was to try and win over the people, to love us I guess,” Lobas said. 

They did so by flying across the central highlands, dropping leaflets and playing tapes over a loudspeaker urging the enemy to surrender.

“When you’re 20-something years old, the spirit of adventure, I didn’t really care. I flew enough to earn my combat wings badge, I really enjoyed doing that. I guess I was foolish and young, but it felt like we were doing something important,” said Lobas.

After the Army, Lobas went on to have a 40-year career with the Green Bay Press Gazette and start a family.

But he says he never reflected much on his time in Vietnam, until a trip on an Old Glory Honor Flight brought him to peace with his past.

“It seems to be turning the corner. I see it in a lot of different ways. It was probably one of the most moving experiences of my life, that honor flight. I think it did, I think it wrapped everything up, I’m 78 now and I’ve lived it all. We did what we had to do, and we made the best of it,” he said.