David L. Dillehay
I am David Dillehay and have a somewhat different story about my military experience. Growing up dirt poor and from a dysfunctional family I droppedout of High School in my freshman year, indeed never did finish high school. Worked at some odd jobs with little work ethic until I turned 17, that was in 1963. Darned if I didn’t join the US Marine Corps—they were not so picky back then but then they didn’t pay much either, just $63 per month.
For some reason they gave me some aptitude tests and then decided that even if I was not well educated, I might make it in Aviation Electronics. Now, the Marine Corps expects their electronic guys to be able to build a radio in the jungle out of coconut shells so the training was extensive, a full year of focus that gave me a great education and career path when I would get out.
Not long before I was due to be discharged in 1967 my unit was due to deploy to Vietnam, and I did not have enough time left for a full deployment so I would be left behind while my buddies went off to do what all Marines are trained to do. Most Marines then would understand the sense camaraderie that caused me extend my enlistment 6 months—to go to Vietnam. It took me just 1 week there to realize I had made a big mistake! But I was a Marine and did what I had to.
While in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968 I received several commendations for hard work and achievement as well as a Purple Heart and a fairly rare combat promotion to Sergeant (E5). But when my tour was finally over I came home to a new world.
Getting back was a shock - I was treated like a war criminal! I thought then that we were doing the right thing there, in fact still do (Did not the Soviet Union collapse?) But I blended back into society as soon as I could get my hair long.
I quickly got a Tech job and mainly based on my Marine Corps training grew professionally at a rapid pace. Also the Maine Corps gave me the confidence to utilize the GI bill and went to night school for many years ended up with an MBA from the University of San Francisco. Even though we were not well treated by much of society, the GI bill then took very good care of us, much better than these young men have today. That is one of my prime interests in supporting the Veterhands Program.
By almost any measure I thrived in the business and technology world and even at my advanced age of 68 I own and manage several international companies. I have donated my house on the island of Cozumel to house as many of the vets that we can send down, and hope to do more as I can.