Our weekly series, Remembering our Veterans continues with the story of Pat Dean.
After attending Edinboro State College and Gannon College in the 60’s, he took a job at General Electric and that’s when he was drafted, at the age of 21.
His tour of duty in Vietnam lasted 15 months, and now 78 years old, there are certain memory tapes that are difficult to rewind.
57 years after being in Vietnam, Pat Dean still wonders it was it was all worth for the United States.
“I wrestled with that for a long time, whether we really should of been there,” said Dean. “I saw some 250,000 men killed, for what? We left.”
He was in a Headquarters Group of Transportation overseeing 6,000 troops. He was on all of the conveys delivering ammunition and food to troops in the field.
“They were the real heroes, I saw conflict but they saw it daily,” said Dean. “Running a convey you might get attacked and you’d get into some action. That was my primary duty.”
He tried to forget his tour of duty the day he got home, then many years later he revisited his experiences in local classrooms.
“I told them about the country, the people, the Montagnards. How even though it’s a different society , a different language, there’s a lot of similarities you see here. Some of the issues we have in this country, they have in Vietnam,” said Dean. “The Montagnards were a lower class citizen and the Vietnamese didn’t treat them very well, but they were charming people. I talked a lot about things like that, how there’s similarities country to country. They were pretty engaged, I came in with all this paraphernalia.”
Some of the scenes he came across were difficult to comprehend, then and now.
“We found a body one time that was a Vietnamese solider that was just kind of hacked, all you could see was his name tag and his uniform,” said Dean. “That’s when I said ‘How can people be this combative, how can they hate people this much?’ That was hard to see.”
Dean says his military experiences helped shape his professional life and after Vietnam, he spent 42 years working at Erie Insurance.
Pat Dean, thank you for your service.