Combat veteran Bob Hyatt said his war story in the Vietnam era was like living through a surrealistic movie.
"I wouldn't believe a story like this either. It's that crazy," Hyatt said.
The highly trained Special Forces Green Beret was shot on the home front just before he was set to head to war in Vietnam.
"We beat out the World Series in the paper," Hyatt said, holding up a San Francisco Examiner from October 11, 1967.
In our on-camera interview, Hyatt explained the circumstances that led to the shooting on a street in North Beach. He also explained why, after his recovery, he still opted to serve his country in Vietnam.
Hyatt is one of four Vietnam veterans 10News followed on an all-expenses-paid HonorAir Knoxville trip to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial wall. Flight 21 escorted 149 troops on that one day trip up and back to the nation's capital.
In addition to our on-camera interview, Hyatt answered the following ten questions about the impact his military service has had on the rest of his life.
- Which one person influenced you most in life?
I would say my dad. He was a good hard worker like his dad and my other grandfather. They worked until they were in their eighties. That work ethic taught me a lot.
- Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?
Very much so since my trip to Washington. The trip with HonorAir Knoxville was transformation. It was so moving I get choked up talking about it.
- How can people thank you for your service?
By respecting people who are in the military. Pay it forward. Welcome them home. The things that we didn’t get. We were outcasts.
- How do you honor your fellow service men and women?
I thank everyone of them that I see. I always talk to them and thank them.
- How do you think this generation of service men and women is different or similar to yours?
They’re a volunteer army so they buy in before they sign up. We had a lot of people who were disgruntled for their entire time in the military.
- What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?
I learned the value of discipline and respect for authority. Even if the authority doesn’t deserve it. I understood the pecking order of sorts.
- Does your family have a history of military service?
Dad and all my uncles were all in World War II. One of my aunts was a nurse in Patton’s Army in Europe during WWII.
- Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?
That’s a really good question. It would depend on the person whether he or she was motivated. I would encourage them to go with their desires.
- How has your opinion of war changed?
When I went I thought I was 10 foot tall and bullet proof. It’s brutal, it’s stupid but it is totally necessary to have a good defense and sometimes you must attack. I am paraphrasing Eisenhower.
- How did your military experience shape your faith?
It taught me to respect people of other religious doctrine. I worked with Buddhists and Catholics in Vietnam. They didn’t really like each other. So I learned to respect other cultures and try to be true to my faith and maybe effect other people in a positive.