Appleton, Wisc. (WFRV) – John Breitzman and his brother enlisted in the military in 1966. He went into the Air Force, his brother went into the Army. Both made it home safe.
“I said you can’t draft me, I’m going to enlist in the Air Force, I don’t want to go in the Army,” Breitzman said.
Breitzman wanted to be a medic.
“I had a medical background and I wanted to do that. And so, I went to medical school in Alabama, I went to pharmacy school there and I thought that was very cool, I liked that a lot.”
And in ‘69, Breitzman was off to Vietnam.
“When we landed in Da Nang, they were firing rockets at our planes and stuff like that. We had to get off very quickly, it was scary. I had never been through anything like that,” he said.
Working as a pharmacist and medic in both Da Nang and Cam Ranh Bay, it was the chemistry behind pharmaceuticals that intrigued Breitzman.
But he also enjoyed the opportunity to give back to locals in Vietnam, who didn’t always have access to good healthcare.
“And so we went and treated people that lived in the area with whatever medical supplies we had to spare for them. And it was very, very cool. I liked that,” Breitzman said.
After returning from Vietnam in 1970, Breitzman has become a staple at some local veterans organizations.
Linda Breitzman, John’s wife, said she loves watching him give back.
“There’s a friendship that the veteran’s groups have, they work for a purpose and that’s to support the veterans,” Breitzman said. “Almost everybody has a veteran they know, so just getting the word out through those connections has really helped and it’s gratifying that he has spread that word and has been involved,” she said.
John’s father enrolled him in the American Legion more than 51 years ago, before he ever finished serving, and he’s still a member there and very active today where he serves on the Executive Committee.
“Veteran’s need help, they just need people to help them. That’s all there is,” Breitzman said.
Have someone you’d like to nominate for Hometown Hero? Let us know below!