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August 15, 2013

Stonewall man recalls Vietnam experience

Stonewall —

Cecil Higdon kept silent about his time in Vietnam for almost 20 years.

The Stonewall man spent nearly two years in Vietnam as a heavy-equipment operator in the U.S. Army. He was discharged in the early 1970s, but he declined to discuss his military career with anyone because he didn’t want to be forced to defend his service.

“A lot of times, I’d just say, ‘Well, it’s just something I won’t talk about,’” Higdon said. “If it was another vet, we might talk a little bit but not a whole lot.”

That changed in the late 1980s when Americans’ attitudes toward Vietnam veterans began to change. After nearly two decades of silence, Higdon felt free to talk about his military career with other veterans.

Higdon said discussing his experiences eased his bitterness against the people who protested the Vietnam War.

“I didn’t really mind their protesting as much as their blaming us, like it was our idea to go. We were traitors for going,” Higdon said. “Well, I was raised up in a place like that, you didn’t question the government. Right or wrong, you went.”

Forty years ago today, the United States stopped bombing Cambodia as part of the war effort. The war continued for nearly two more years, ending when Saigon fell to North Vietnam in April 1975.

 

‘You did it 

without question’

Higdon grew up in the Roff area. He dropped out of high school because he thought he already knew everything. Six months after leaving high school, the 19-year-old man enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1968.

Higdon’s father had served in World War II and the Korean War, and several of his uncles had served in Korea. So when he turned 19, Higdon decided to carry on the family tradition.

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