KSLA Salutes: For love & honor, surviving Vietnam
BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Retired Sergeant First Class Jimmie Brown served 20 years in the U.S. Army, but most know him as Pappy. Three of those years he lead a special forces recon squad, fighting their way through the jungles of Vietnam.
"The first firefight we were ever in was that night at the replacement station, we had a ground attack and I never will forget it. Three of them charged right close to me and when I opened up and fired at them, one of them fell right in front of me and I can still see his eyes right now, but that was our first welcoming committee."
Brown recalled some of the battles would last for hours, even days.
"We were out in what they call the Arizona territory, this was in the last part of 70, we were in real bad contact fighting back-and-forth you know, I mean the shooting was very fierce."
It was on that day, Brown's best friend saved his live.
"Vinny called out, you got some coming at you Pappy, don't worry I got him. He come running and jumped over me," Brown paused as emotions and vivid memories filled his mind, "He jumped over me and started shooting them, but they got him in the chest real bad and he fell right in my arms. Of course I picked up my weapon and my rifle and finished shooting. I have a thing right up here, that Vietnam memorial thing there, that's him on it, to this day we were all brothers as we called ourselves, I never will forget that man."
Brown's final patrol would come a few months later in the A-Shau Valley. A fierce hand to hand battle which left Brown injured and unable to hear. Brown spent the next year and a half recovering in and out of U.S. hospitals.
"It took me a long time to adjust to it but I just felt like a part of me is still there and I still feel that way too, and sometimes I still have a lot of nightmares about it, to this day."
A few years ago, Brown took his memories and complied his stories in a book called Pappy's Raiders.
"I just wanted people to know how I felt you know and I just wrote my life in Vietnam. It was just my way of getting things off my chest telling people."
"Nowadays I can walk outside and hold my head up high, but before I was reluctant to go outside you know, are they going to boo at us or whatever?," explained Brown, "People are just now coming up to me and the rest of the vets and saying thank you, (Brown paused again) bear me, I get very emotional."
He is living proof it's never too late to honor those who've served.
Brown was awarded several medals for his bravery and service in Vietnam, including three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.
His book Pappy's Raiders is still available online.
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