Personal Reflections

Dennis Joyner, Longwood, Florida

Dennis Joyner,
Longwood, Florida

U.S. Army, 9th Infantry Division, Bronze Star and Purple Heart

I grew up in a small town outside Pittsburgh and graduated in 1966 in the last class of Washington Township High School before it merged with another nearby school. During the next few years I attended Edinboro College (now University) near Erie, Pennsylvania but decided to take a break prior to receiving my diploma. I got married, had a son, Dennis Jr., and at age 20 got drafted. I had already used my student deferment – you only got one – but even though I was married with a son, I was considered 1-A. My attitude was, “Whatever will be, will be.”

I reported for duty December 10, 1968 and was sent to Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina for basic training (eight weeks) and infantry training (nine weeks). Following a four-week leave to visit my family, I was shipped off to Vietnam on May 24.

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Diane Musselmann, Spouse of the late Kenneth G. Musselmann

Diane Musselmann,
Spouse of the late Kenneth G. Musselmann,
Huntington Beach, California

Kenneth Musselmann served in U.S. Army, Co. B 46th Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, and received both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

I knew him since I was 11 years old, and called him Kenny. We met in junior high school when I moved to the area (Pico Rivera, California), but we didn’t start dating until high school, which we graduated in 1964. We enrolled in college and got married two years later, then quit college so Kenny could train to become a policeman. He was accepted to the police academy and had completed almost all of his background checks when he was drafted. He returned from a camping trip in the Sierras when the notice arrived. He wasn’t one to look back, just forward. He accepted it and did the best he could.

He did his basic training in Texas and then his advanced infantry training in Louisiana, followed by non-commissioned officer’s school in Ft. Benning, Georgia. He lived on the base and I moved into a small trailer with another wife for six weeks, and then Kenny went back to Louisiana for six weeks to work with his troops. He left for Vietnam the day after his 22nd birthday, in September 1968, the first in his family to serve. I was always very proud of him. He felt that he was doing his duty. He did his absolute best. He was always like that.

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Roberto “Bobby” Barrera

Roberto “Bobby” Barrera,
Del Rio, Texas

U.S. Marine Corps, Purple Heart Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and Combat Action Ribbon. 

Since I was a young kid, I wanted to be a Marine.  Perhaps I watched too many John Wayne movies, but that was my dream—to wear that uniform.  When I graduated from high school I wanted to enlist in the Marines right away, and my dad wanted me to go to college.  I made his dream come true by becoming the first of his children to go to college, but after two years I gave up my Selective Service school deferment and made my dream come true.  I became a Marine.

My first assignment after training was in the Republic of Vietnam. I was now ready to show John Wayne what a real Marine could do. As it turned out, John was better at being a Marine than me. After only six weeks I was assigned to a special mission planned by intelligence. Never did I realize that that would be my last mission. In fact, it would be a life-changing day for certain. The mission involved a convoy of five amtracs (amphibious warfare vehicles). I felt somewhat safe because I was riding on trac number 3. With two tracs in front and two tracs behind us I was in the safest position of all, almost the safest position.

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