Echoes of the Vietnam War

EP29: Nobody's Perfect

Release Date: May 24, 2022

In wartime, casualty and injury records are often created (or not created) in moments of absolute, unimaginable chaos. Sometimes the dots just don’t get connected. David Kies is the living embodiment of that phenomenon. He is alive… and his name is on The Wall. In this episode, he tells us what it’s like to do a rubbing of your own name at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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Echoes of the Vietnam War


(HOST): [00:00:00] We always describe the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as the founders of the Wall. And that’s true. But there are a lot of assumptions people make when they hear that which aren’t true. For example, a lot of people think we’re part of the federal government. We are not. VVMF is a non-profit organization founded by Veterans, for Veterans. Another assumption people make is that VVMF decides whose name goes on the Wall. Nope. Those criteria are set by the Department of Defense and they tell us who meets the criteria. When the Wall was being conceived and designed our founders did go over that list not once, not twice, but eight times, trying to make sure that nobody was left out. The goal was perfection and the intentions were pure. But at the end of the day, these were decisions made by people. And because people are imperfect, the efforts made by people almost never achieve perfection. The Wall is no exception. For example, there are some names that are misspelled. Remember, these decisions were made before there were Excel spreadsheets. So somebody’s looking at a copy of a copy of a record might easily misread a G as a C or a B as a D. In other cases, you have people in the same family who disagree on how their names should be spelled.

(HOST): [00:01:17] Who’s right? Who gets to decide? As soon as you open it up to opinions, things get muddy pretty quick. But even when you’re dealing with cold, hard facts documented in official military records, the truth can be elusive. We’re talking about tens of thousands of records, many of them created in moments of unimaginable, absolute chaos and then passed along through channels that are themselves chaotic. Sometimes the dots just don’t get connected. David Kies is the living embodiment of that phenomenon. He lives in Verona, Wisconsin, where he retired after a long career as an illustrator. And as you’ll hear in my interview with him, he’s happy, healthy and thriving, despite having lost both legs to a claymore mine in Vietnam, David is always fully aware that there are others who lost more, who gave more than he did. He is alive and his name is on the wall. Wait. What? Stick around. From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, founders of the Wall. This is Echoes of the Vietnam War. I’m your host, Michael Croan, bringing you stories of service, sacrifice and healing from people who still feel the impact of that conflict. Nearly 50 years later. This is episode 29. Nobody’s perfect.

(DAVID): [00:03:05] I grew up in Platteville, Wisconsin, on the southwest corner. Born on a farm. Grew up on a farm.

(HOST): [00:03:11] That’s David Kies.

(DAVID): [00:03:13] And then when I was 18, my father said, Do you want the farm? And I said, No. So he sold it.

(HOST): [00:03:18] What kind of farm was it?

(DAVID): [00:03:20] It was just a dairy farm. I really didn’t want the farm or anything to do with it. We also had a couple hundred ponies, and so I grew to have a very dislike for Shetland ponies because they would bite, they would kick and they were very mean, but they were, they were miniature. So they were at the time in the ’50s they were worth a lot of money.

(HOST): [00:03:41] So farm work didn’t interest you as a young man? What did?

(DAVID): [00:03:45] Well, I was, I always liked cars. I bought my first car when I was 12, and drove it… ’32 Ford. I should have kept that one, too. I was into sports. I went out for freshman football. I saw my first compound fracture, so I quit. That was enough for me. But I played basketball and I participated in track. That was a four-year letterman in track in high school.

(HOST): [00:04:11] And what year did you graduate high school?

(DAVID): [00:04:14] 1963.

(HOST): [00:04:16] And did you go straight into the military from there?

(DAVID): [00:04:19] No. I went to college for a year and I thought this wasn’t for me. It was kind of a religious school and that wasn’t for me. This was the ’60s, of course… My clothes were too tight, my hair was too long and the exhaust in my car were too loud. So they said, See you later. So I said, See you later. So I went to work for American Airlines in Chicago at O’Hare. And then I worked there a year before I was drafted. My mother called me. She said, “You got your draft notice in the mail today.” And I said, Well, give it to me and I’ll get a hold of them. So I got a hold of and I said, I don’t live in Grant County, Wisconsin, I live in DuPage County, Illinois…Trying to postpone it. Very next month I got one from DuPage County. The government really worked, worked fast. So I wrote them a letter and I said, “Oh, I live in Wisconsin.” So that was it. I finally went in after that.

(HOST): [00:05:12] And which branch were you drafted into?

(DAVID): [00:05:15] I was drafted in the Army.

(HOST): [00:05:18] Once you were inducted, where did they send you for training?

(DAVID): [00:05:21] I went to Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was beautiful down there, it was October. It was absolutely beautiful. And then I went to eight weeks of infantry training in Fort Polk after that. In Louisiana. And that was actually… You’ve probably heard this before, but it was worse than Vietnam. It was it was a miserable, miserable place, which is what they wanted. They wanted to make it miserable. And they did. Then I signed up for jump school after that, all for $55 a month, which was big bucks back then. I was scared. I’m scared to death of heights. But for $55 a month, I thought I’d do it. And I did it.

(HOST): [00:06:00] And jump school was where? Fort Benning?

(DAVID): [00:06:02] Fort Benning.

(HOST): [00:06:03] What do you remember about your first jump as someone who’s afraid of heights?

(DAVID): [00:06:08] Well, it’s very peaceful up there. I came down and I landed on the road, which I should have known better, how to steer the thing… And I didn’t. So I landed on a road. Second time I landed in a creek. As I looked back at it, I was kind of stupid because here I am scared of heights and I’m jumping out of 12,050 feet of an airplane. That was kind of scary.

(HOST): [00:06:33] Yeah, I’ll bet. Did you get orders for Vietnam pretty soon after that?

(DAVID): [00:06:38] I did. I got orders. Of course, I came home for, I don’t know, 30 days or so, which you always do. And I got the orders for Vietnam and I got orders for the 173rd Airborne, which I’d never heard of. I heard of the 101st and 82nd, but never the 173rd. And so it was all going to be new to me. And it was, but it was a great outfit.

(HOST): [00:07:01] When did you arrive in Vietnam?

(DAVID): [00:07:04] I got there, let’s see,,, I left here on my sister’s birthday, 26th of April of ’66. So I got there within a couple of days, end of April of ’66.

(HOST): [00:07:18] What do you remember about arriving there? What were your first impressions?

(DAVID): [00:07:23] I remember what you’ve probably heard over and over again. It was terribly, terribly hot. As soon as they open the door of the airplane, it was just…. Just hot and muggy and it smelled and…. I still get that smell once in a while. It’s kind of, kind of eerie. I guess we should have been prepared. It’s a hot country.

(HOST): [00:07:45] Where exactly did you land?

(DAVID): [00:07:46] Oh, I think it was. I want to say Vung Tao. I’m not absolutely sure. The reception station.

(HOST): [00:07:55] Where did you go from there?

(DAVID): [00:07:57] Well, they put us in a cattle car. There were like three of us. They had this big, big semi, “cattle car” they called it. And we rode in the back. It was open. And they they went three different places. It was like I went to 173rd and another guy went someplace else, another guy went someplace else. And we’re driving down these gravel or dirt roads and they’d stop and say, “Okay, guys, you’re out of here.” And I had to walk down this driveway. Into the camp, Camp [INAUDIBLE] in Bien Hoa. And when I checked into the officer and the guy threw me an M-16, I’d never seen an M-16 before. We train on the M-14’s, and he said, “Well, we’re going out tomorrow morning, so here’s your rifle.” I said, “What? Can I shoot it?” He said, “Well, you can, but I don’t know where you can do it.” So anyway, I didn’t even shoot my rifle before we went out. So it was kind of, very unorganized. I’m sure they don’t do that today.

(HOST): [00:09:05] So it was the next morning you went out for the first time?

(DAVID): [00:09:08] Went out for the first time I saw my first casualty. Woke me right up. We landed in the rice paddy and they were shooting down… They shot down a couple of helicopters. We could see it was pretty wide open. And they were carrying bodies out of the jungle. American troops. Holy cow. What’d I get myself into? I was in an anti-tank platoon. Which I never could quite figure out because the Viet Cong didn’t have tanks, but yet we were an anti-tank platoon and all we seem to do is march through the jungle, hack our way through with machetes and we would dig a foxhole for the general when he came down out of his helicopter, and it was like, “What am I doing here?” So about five or six of us transferred to the recon platoon, which was right next door. We knew, we knew the guys in recon and they had a very heavy turnover because they were, they were out front. Then they were always looking for people and they were run totally different. Sergeant Powell was over there and Sergeant Powell was actually a major in the reserves here in the States, and he volunteered to go to Vietnam and they gave him a desk job. He says, “I don’t want this desk job. I want to be on the field.” So they made him an E6.

(DAVID): [00:10:29] Today that’d be unheard of. They’d never, they would never do that. So, he became an E6 and he was he was the best leader, he just died a couple of years ago, I used to see him all the time. Great, great, great guy. He had respect of everyone. There were 33 of us, I remember that. And I remember the hooch we lived in was, you know, they were… All hooches were the same. They were just canvas, rough, like a tent with a floor. That’s what they were, and had some screens. But we were never there. That was the problem. I think the longest we were out was 44 days. That was that was a long time. You know, your clothes, your clothes, would rot right off ya. They were like dead skin. You could pull on your pants, your fatigue pants, and they’d just disintegrate. But they would drop they would drop clothes into us periodically. Clothes and food and… Sergeant Powell, who was this… the platoon leader, was very well connected. He was special forces. He’d been around for a long time. He would say, “Boys, I’ll be back in an hour.” And he’d call a helicopter and he’d come back in an hour and he’d have a pallet of beer and a pallet the steaks, so we’d have a little party. But recon was very, very close knit, guys. We still communicate.

(HOST): [00:11:56] Did you have a specific job in that recon platoon?

(DAVID): [00:11:59] Rifleman. We did a lot of search and destroy, which is pretty common with everyone, I think, all platoons. But we also set up ambushes at night. We’d set up and work… two trails might cross in the jungle. We’d hit that during the day, and then we’d come back at night and we’d sneak back in that same area and set up booby traps and we just lay there and wait. The medic would come around and give us all Benzedrine at night, which was speed, I guess. So we’d all be awake all night. Then when the sun came up, we’d police everything up and we’d go take a nap for two or three hours and off we’d go again. So there wasn’t a whole lot of sleep. But it was fun. I always compared it to playing Cowboys and Indians, except I always saw it was my last day. I thought this could be my last day. They almost did come, but it took a while. There were people I didn’t know their first names because they had nicknames. Like, when I was injured, The Greek was with me. I never knew his real name. It was Eric Zoller. Now I know, but we just call him The Greek. I mean, he was blonde, blonde haired, blonde… big head of blonde hair, And he was The Greek, which didn’t make sense. Eric was a really nice guy. In fact, I still have… I was sent, one of our lieutenants sent me his helmet cover. We never wore a helmet very often, but I have his helmet cover, the liner, that was over his helmet with all these writings. And he was kind of an artist himself. And it was a he was a tall, thin guy. Big head, blonde hair. Pretty nice guy. Like I say, I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t even know his name other than The Greek. That’s what we called him.

(HOST): [00:13:57] Yeah. Like you. He had been there about nine months. Had three months to go?

(DAVID): [00:14:03] Yup, I was almost there nine months to the day. And so was he.

(HOST): [00:14:08] David, can you walk us through the day of your injury?

(DAVID): [00:14:12] Yeah, it was Sunday morning. I don’t remember a whole lot of dates and times and places, but I do remember that morning. It was a beautiful morning, fog was rising from the ground…. It was misty and sun was shining through. There were three of us: Eric Zoller, myself and a new guy who just came in the night before, who we were walking down the trail, policing up our equipment or booby traps the night before our tripwires.

(HOST): [00:14:39] Sorry. Where were you, exactly?

(DAVID): [00:14:40] We were in the Iron Triangle. Up on the Cambodian border. I was first. We were walking down this trail. I was first Eric because behind me, and the new guy was behind Eric. I stop. We’re all smoked then, because sometimes we don’t have any food. So we did smoke. They got a cigarettes. They didn’t get us food. We had all the cigarettes we wanted. I didn’t smoke before I went in the service. Most of us didn’t. So I stopped to light cigarette and Eric walked around me and just as he walked around me, he got maybe ten feet ahead of me, the claymore went off. I was standing right in front of the… Right in front of the claymore, right in front of it. Thank God I was that close because it just cut me right off below the knees. That’s that’s the lucky part. But it killed Eric because he was a little further away, and it peppered him with shrapnel. The new guy. I think got his eardrums punctured. Eric lost both his legs too. So he was we had pretty much the same injuries except his are more severe, because he was farther away. But we always had a couple of medics with us in our platoon and the medic was right there. Peter Guerrera, who I’ve talked to a couple of years ago, I, I got him by accident.

(DAVID): [00:16:04] That’s a whole ‘nother story. But so he came and he gave me a shot of morphine and… Well, I tried to get up. First of all, I was thrown away up in the air, came down and tried to get up off my back… And there was nothing there. I thought, “What’s going on here?” And I look down and one of my legs was gone. The other one was bent, 90 degree angle. And the medic came, gave me a shot of morphine. I said, Give me another one. He said, “I can’t. It’s against the rules.” I said, Give me another shot of morphine. So he did. And so I was conscious the whole time I…. It hurt! They called a helicopter in and the pilot said, “I’m not going to come down here. It’s a hot LZ. There’s too much going on.” Well, it was the colonel’s helicopter, Col. [INAUDIBLE]. And the colonel said, get this blankety-blank thing down there. Those are my guys down there. So they landed the helicopter. Finally, they threw Eric on, they threw me on, and away they went. We were back in the in the MASH hospital and 20 minutes. But you know, if that was Second World War or Korea. Yeah. We’d still be on the field.

(HOST): [00:17:17] We’ll be back shortly with more of my interview with David Kies, who will tell us what it feels like to stand at the Wall and make a rubbing of your own name. Stick around. Have you ever heard of Wall Magic? People who visit the wall talk about it that unexpected, often spiritual connection or discovery that happens when you visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial? It’s one of those things that if you know, you know, you’ve either experienced it or you haven’t. Maybe you’d like to experience it, but you can’t easily get yourself to the Wall in Washington, D.C. That’s exactly why VVMF created The Wall That Heals an exact replica of the Wall at three-quarter scale that travels to communities all across America. The Wall That Heals, and the Mobile Education Center that travels with it, will be in Erie, Pennsylvania, May 27 through 30, and Norwalk, Connecticut, June 2 through 5. To see the rest of this year’s tour schedule and to learn how you can bring The Wall That Heals to your town, visit This year, we’re celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. To commemorate this milestone, every day at 3 p.m. Eastern, we read the name of Every Wall honoree who died on that date. This is in addition to the live in person reading of the names that will be held in Washington, D.C., beginning on November 7th. You can visit for more information about the daily virtual reading of the names and about the in-person event. The 2022 In Memory induction ceremony at the wall is all set for Father’s Day weekend, and we’re already accepting applications for the 2023 In Memory Honor Roll.

(HOST): [00:19:08] So if you have loved ones who survived the Vietnam War and died after returning home, you can honor them in next year’s ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We also have an In Memory Facebook group with more than 15,000 members, so be sure to join that if you want to feel part of a community of people who’ve experienced a loss similar to yours. You’ll find the 2023 In Memory Honor Roll application and a link to the Facebook group by going to and clicking on In Memory. For 40 years now, VVMF has led the way to help heal our nation, remember those who gave all, and honor all who served. Our new legacy endowment will ensure that we can continue honoring Vietnam veterans for the next 40 years and beyond. We launched the Legacy Endowment with a $500,000 matching gift campaign. The Legacy Challenge. Each new outright gift or gift established through a will, will be matched up to 50 percent, with a maximum of $50,000 matched per gift. All qualifying gifts established or newly identified before November 12th of this year are eligible for the match. Learn more at And now let’s get back to my interview with David Kies. Before the break, he was describing his experience being evacuated to a field surgical hospital, having just lost both legs below the knees to a claymore mine.

(DAVID): [00:20:45] I can remember the medics. No shirts. I’m sweating profusely. Here… This is a tent, a MASH tent in the middle of nowhere, with an operating light – I dunno how that got hooked up, but they both had cut off fatigue pants, hot pants, with no shirts. These are the doctors, right? And the doctor said, well, you know, one leg is gone… We’re going to take the other one off, because it’s just hanging on by a thread. And I can still remember I said, do whatever you have to do. And so they did. And then they shipped me off to 3rd Evac, in Bien Hoa. I was there for five days before I left.

(HOST): [00:21:28] At what point did Eric pass away? Was he already gone by the time they loaded him on the chopper?

(DAVID): [00:21:33] Yeah, he was kind of gurgling. He was, you know, he was dying. He didn’t last very long.

(HOST): [00:21:42] Where did you go from there?

(DAVID): [00:21:44] I went to… Walter Reed. My insurance agent back in my hometown was a general in the Army, First World War, and very well-connected still. And he wrote a… Sent a telegram to the Pentagon, he said, “Get him home!” They we’re going to keep me there for a while. And they say he said, “get him home!” And they did. They got me home in five days.

(HOST): [00:22:14] And how long were you at Walter Reed?

(DAVID): [00:22:16] I was there probably about five months.

(HOST): [00:22:20] What did they do for you there?

(DAVID): [00:22:21] Well. They didn’t do a whole lot, really. They took the bandages off. I remember, old Mr. Norris, out on the sun porch. His job was to take the bandages off of everyone that came in. This was an amputee ward. It was Ward 35. It was a white, wide open ward, all amputees. And when we’d come in off the airplane, Mr. Norris would take us one by one, out on the sun porch where he had this cart loaded with the hydrogen peroxide. And he would soak our bandages because all they did is wrap ’em up, wrap us up after they operated in Vietnam. And the blood was sticking… And it was all… Just like mass, just like, it’s like, somebody put mud on there, you know? So his job was to soften all it up and take the bandages off. And it was all day long. There were people out there screaming. There’s a bunch of troopers out there screaming. And poor Mr. Norris, that was his job all day long. But I was in a wheelchair and we got to roam. We were like a pack of wild dogs roaming the hospital, racing up and down the halls, wrecking wheelchairs. So it was… Another good time. There are actually people in there, there was one in particular that the guy died. He lost an arm, but mentally he couldn’t take it. And, he gave up hope because he lost an arm. Like, there’s always somebody worse, ya know? And I lost my legs. So I wasn’t going to feel sorry for myself, I’d look around there’d always be somebody much worse. Maybe somebody lost three limbs. When I go to the VA, I always – when I finish my appointments – I go there to work out at least once a week. I always go down and sit in the lobby inside the front door just to watch people come in. And I know some of these people are a whole lot younger than me and they’re in a lot worse shape. Some people are really struggling.

(HOST): [00:24:38] Is there anything else that you remember from your time at Walter Reed?

(DAVID): [00:24:41] I had a doctor came to me one night after after hours, and he said, they want to do a knee disarticulation on you. In other words, take my knee apart, on my shortest leg. Then do some experimenting on you. He said, “Don’t let ’em do it.” He says, I know where you’re going. You’re going to Madison, and I know your doctors there. I thought, that’s kind of strange. How does he know this? Well, it ended up he’s from Dodgeville, Wisconsin. He was he grew up 20 miles from me. And he was right. I came to Madison. I had many, many surgeries, probably six surgeries. But they fixed me up pretty well.

(HOST): [00:25:20] And I assume you were medically discharged at some point?

(DAVID): [00:25:24] I got discharged in June, June 2nd of ’67.

(HOST): [00:25:30] So summer of ’67, you’re out of the Army. I assume you have your prosthetics by then. Did you head home from there?

(DAVID): [00:25:38] I headed home. Then I went back to school.

(HOST): [00:25:41] Oh, you did? What did you decide to study?

(DAVID): [00:25:44] I studied light building construction, which was like pre-architecture. But I was decided I wasn’t very good at math, so I switched to art, which is always my first love. Anyway, so.

(HOST): [00:25:57] And did you finish with an art degree?

(DAVID): [00:26:00] No, I was about 11 credits short. I never finished, but I got a job in art.

(HOST): [00:26:05] So what job did you get?

(DAVID): [00:26:08] I was an illustrator for Land’s End. The catalog, Land’s End.

(HOST): [00:26:12] Oh, I remember those, those were great.

(DAVID): [00:26:15] I was there for 28 years doing that.

(HOST): [00:26:18] So you’re leading a pretty normal life, right? I mean, you’ve got a career. You’ve got a family. Where was Vietnam in your consciousness during that period?

(DAVID): [00:26:29] I think I pushed a lot of that stuff right out of my mind. I don’t… I don’t remember like the ’70s, the ’80s… They’re a total blank to me. So I’m sure that that’s all connected.

(HOST): [00:26:43] So no contact with other Vietnam veterans or veterans groups?

(DAVID): [00:26:48] Not until the year 2000. I did join the American Legion back in my hometown, but I always kept looking for a reunion notices for my… For my unit. I never saw ’em. Never saw ’em. Never saw ’em… Until the year 2000. My friend, who was our radio operator, lives in Franklin, Tennessee, retired, from the insurance industry and he was going through the computer and found my name, my phone number, who he thought was me. But he ended up calling my son. He didn’t want to talk about me, as if I’m dead. And my son said, “Why don’t you call him?” He said, “What do you mean call him? Didn’t he die?” He said, no. So Jerry called me and we talked quite a while. And there there was going to be a reunion of my unit in Rochester, Minnesota. So from ’67 to 2000, I had no contact with anyone.

(HOST): [00:27:52] When and how did you eventually find out that your name was on the wall?

(DAVID): [00:27:57] Probably mid to late ’80s.

(HOST): [00:28:00] Before taking the job. illustrating the Lands End catalog, David worked at a car dealership. One day he came back from lunch and found a post-it note on his desk.

(DAVID): [00:28:11] I had no idea who put the post-it there… And the office help didn’t see anybody go in my office, put a post-it there. So I never did find out who put that there. But they said, Did you know your name was on the Wall? That’s all it said. And so I started looking into it, and it was it was… It used to be in the book, my name used to be in the book at that time and the directory the since taken out.

(HOST): [00:28:36] When you found out that there was a David Kies’s on the wall, did you just assume it was a different person with the same name?

(DAVID): [00:28:42] That’s what I originally thought, right? I did a little more research and found out it was it was next to Zoller’s name and the timeline was right. I have a high school friend who’s also on the same panel, 14 East right down below me a little bit.

(HOST): [00:29:01] When did you actually go and see that for the first time?

(DAVID): [00:29:04] Well, I didn’t want to go see it. I didn’t know. I didn’t want to see the Wall. I wasn’t that my name was on there. I just didn’t want to see the Wall because I thought it’d be too emotional. So I went to the traveling wall that came to town here, and I didn’t want to go to that either. But my dentist called me. My dentist from the VA called me. It was my neighbor… One night about 11:00 and said, Let’s go to the Wall. It’s out here at the VFW post. He didn’t want to go either, but he said, get your flashlight out, I’ll come pick you up. So he did. We went out there. There was a security guard on each end of the wall, and it was a cold, rainy, misty night. And we’re walking along in front of the wall and they showed my light up on the wall where I thought it might be like halfway through my light shined on a name called David Bendorf. David Bendorf was my younger sister’s boyfriend in high school. That was really, he was in the Marines also. I thought that’s really got very… That got me more than anything. Then I saw my name.

(HOST): [00:30:09] Wow. That must have felt. I don’t know. How did that feel?

(DAVID): [00:30:16] It didn’t bother me like I thought it would, but that broke the ice so I could go actually see the Wall in Washington.

(HOST): [00:30:24] I see. When did you do that?

(DAVID): [00:30:28] Oh, I would say 2007, something like that. About the time I retired. So it took a while. My wife and I went with some friends. He had never been in the service, but it affected him a lot more than it affected me. I mean that guy was crying. But I remember there were school kids there, a lot of school kids, but they were all very reverent, very quiet. They were all rubbing names. There was no paper or pencil there when I was there. I think the school kids had ’em all. They had all the pencils and all the paper. But the teacher, the instructor, the chaperone. Give me some paper and pencils so I could rub my name.

(HOST): [00:31:16] What was it like for your wife to stand there and watch you do a rubbing of your own name at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

(DAVID): [00:31:24] She helped me hold the paper. She had been there before, actually. She, she used to travel a lot for work. So she had been there and actually got into an argument with the Park Ranger. She didn’t know where my name was and talked to the Park Ranger and the Park Ranger said there are no mistakes on this Wall. And she said, “Yes, there are, I’m living with one.”

(HOST): [00:31:51] Yeah. Well, it’s pretty unusual company that you’re in.

(DAVID): [00:31:56] It is. I’m honored to be there. But yet, I know I don’t belong there. It’s like… It’s like if you get credit for something you don’t do.

(HOST): [00:32:08] Well, given the nature of your injuries, I’m sure there was a moment or moments when it could have gone either way. I mean, you could very easily have belonged on that wall.

(DAVID): [00:32:18] Right? That’s right.

(HOST): [00:32:20] And now you have this reminder, you know, carved into granite… Of how close you came to a completely different outcome. Do you ever do you think about that?

(DAVID): [00:32:31] Oh, yeah, I do. I do. I think about it quite often. Um, you know, it took me probably 40, about 40 years before I realized I had PTSD. Well, in fact, it was 2003. It was when we invaded Afghanistan. Then it was on the news all the time. Body counts. Body counts. Body counts… Every morning. And that got to me, it got to a lot of Vietnam vets. I know a lot of them really struggle with that.

(HOST): [00:33:07] Dave, what have you learned about the circumstances of how your name got on the Wall?

(DAVID): [00:33:13] I think it was partly because I was picked up by the colonel’s helicopter, and there were no records. You know, if you picked up a medevac, you’ll have a record. Somebody keeps records in there… And they didn’t have a record till they got to the hospital, I guess. Just one of those mistakes.

(HOST): [00:33:32] Right. But the Army knew they had discharged you, I mean, there must be a record of that, right?

(DAVID): [00:33:36] Yeah, right. And they knew that it was a medical discharge and… I don’t know. I don’t know. Nobody caught it. Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of strange. And I wasn’t the only one.

(HOST): [00:33:50] Right, right. You’re one of 32, I believe.

(DAVID): [00:33:53] Yeah, that’s still out of 58,000. It’s not too bad, I guess.

(HOST): [00:34:04] Not too bad… I guess. Big thanks to Dave Kies for sharing his story and to you for supporting the official podcast from the founders of The Wall in Washington DC. Hey, if you want to give us a little extra boost, tell a friend or two to check us out. Or better yet, leave us a rating or a review wherever you get your podcasts, that’s the most powerful way to help new listeners find us. We’ll be back in two weeks with more stories of service, sacrifice and healing. See you then.


Echoes of the Vietnam War

Full Interviews

Full Interview with David Kies

Echoes of the Vietnam War

Show Notes

Echoes of The Vietnam War

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