Monticello, New York
U.S. Army, 1st Division
Service: Spring 1969 – Summer 1969
Like thousands of other young American men, Don DeVore struggled intensely with what he would do if he were drafted to serve in Vietnam. He had no desire to become a war hero, and no dreams of winning glory or greatness on a battlefield. In the late summer of 1968, DeVore’s number was called and within weeks he was shipped off to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Arriving in Vietnam in March of 1969, DeVore was assigned to an artillery unit at a fire support base known as Firebase Jim. His job was to provide accurate fire support for the search and destroy patrols that were taking place on a near daily basis in the surrounding jungles. After four months, DeVore was granted compassionate leave to attend the birth of his first child. Upon returning home, he found himself in the middle of the largest peace and love festival of the decade – Woodstock. It was a stark contrast to the harsh combat he returned to just days later. In September of 1969, the Viet Cong infiltrated Firebase Jim and DeVore was severely wounded by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade), sustaining an injury to his left arm that kept him hospitalized for nearly two years. The psychological and physical effects of his combat experience were devastating. For years, DeVore never spoke about the war. When questioned about the scars on his arm, he would tell people they were the result of a motorcycle accident. Finally, in the late 1990s, he sought treatment at a VA hospital, and after several years of counseling he was finally able to come to terms with wartime experience.