Appleton, Wis. (WFRV)- Mike Bryan saw many of the men who would never make it home from the war in Vietnam.
“You know, one of our drill sergeants came out and said, ‘I just want to let you know, half of you will not be coming home,'” Bryan recalled.
Bryan saved lives, and watched them slip away; He shipped off to Vietnam as a Navy Corpsman in 1968.
“I wanted to serve. Again, this was a period of time we just lost John Kennedy and it was a very big shock to everybody,” said Bryan. “When I got my orders to Vietnam and it was a ship, I thought you know, I’ve been blessed.”
The USS Sanctuary would be Bryan’s home for the next year.
An animated storyteller, Bryan recalled the countless lives he helped save as a Corpsman aboard the ship, and even those he couldn’t.
“We were on standby 24/7 because the call may come through that helicopters were coming in,” Bryan said.
“Our responsibility was to get out there, get the patients, pick them up and get them off into triage. There were times that we couldn’t (save them), and that would hurt. But those we were able to save, we did,” said Bryan.
Most days today though, you’ll find Bryan volunteering at the VA Clinic in Appleton, where he helps with administrative work and support in the medical division, tying his days as a Corpsman to his passion to volunteer, now.
“I work with these people and it’s a joy for me,” said Bryan. “I never refer to the people who work there as, ‘Oh hello,’ or anything like that. I say, ‘Hey team,’ because to me, working as a team to accomplish a goal is vital,” Bryan said. Just like his days in the Navy.
He’s been retired from the Navy since 1975, but Bryan says he’ll never stop serving those who he calls his brothers.
“They are brothers because whether good or bad, we’ll stand by each other,” said Bryan. “It’s been very rewarding to be over at the clinic, to work with veterans, for veterans, and be able to help them and I enjoy it to this day, I really do,” Bryan said.
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