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Portrait of Jerry


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Today is Veterans Day in the United States of America. We celebrate Veterans Day to honor the veterans who sacrificed so much to make sure that our freedom is preserved and that we, in this country can go on having a high standard of living, discover new things with high level science and technology, and have a booming economy.

I met Jerry at The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. At the time of this interview, it was located in Palmdale, California, USA. We were lucky to have the memorial here, in Antelope Valley, just this time of year.  Many people came to honor the names that were on the Vietnam Memorial on this day. We were equally lucky to have Jerry serve as a host to help both veteran families and non-veteran families get their questions answered regarding the wall and regarding the travelling project.

Jerry had a short career with the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Vietnam era, at a very young age, and was honorably discharged due to a medical condition. His mother made him promise that she would sign for him if he made only one tour, and he listened to his mother. He told somebody once, “You know, I was more afraid of my mother than I was of the whole Marine Corps.”

Jerry told me that, “I really enjoyed being in the Marines I really loved it, and it and when I came back, I went to college.”

Jerry also wanted me to understand, clearly, and emphatically, that, “There is no such thing as a former Marine. A marine is a marine is a marine. I am a United States Marine Corps Veteran.”

Jerry grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and worked for several oil companies. Jerry started working on the oil rigs, drilling, when he was thirteen years old, “In those days, everyone worked on the oil rigs, and you could always find work on the weekends when you were a kid.”

After returning from his tour in Vietnam, Jerry studied speech and psychology in college and then worked in oil companies’ offices performing accounting and contract duties. Jerry was well-rounded in the business: from the hands-on industrial work to the managerial office work. He had good working knowledge of how to drill oil wells as well as administrative responsibilities.

Jerry had two outstanding children and he had a lovely wife, “who put up with me and that’s what counts. And I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.”

Jerry volunteered for a hospice and took care of all the terminal veterans. One of the activities Jerry undertook was to retrieve copies of the terminal veterans’ discharge papers, without them knowing it, then create a framed certificate that thanked them for their service. Next, he arranged for local active-duty recruiters to wear their class-A uniforms and present the certificates.

At the location of the memorial, I saw the American flag below, and Jerry was kind enough to take a picture in front of it. When I showed it to him, he said that it reminded him of the poster from the 1970 movie Patton, staring George C. Scott.

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Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin ©2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

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