San Bernadino, California
U.S. Army, 196th Light Infantry Brigade and Americal Division
Service: Summer 1967 – Spring 1968
In 1966, fresh out of high school, Barry Romo enlisted in the U.S. Army to join the struggle against the communist threat in Vietnam. Romo’s father and brother had both served in WWII and as a Catholic boy growing up in suburban California, Romo was raised to believe in God and Country. By 1967, at the age of 19, he was a newly commissioned officer and platoon leader with the 196th Infantry, during a period when the U.S. military was increasing the number of ground troops stationed in Vietnam. Romo proved his own valor in the field and was awarded a Bronze Star for his efforts to save his wounded men when his unit was decimated by enemy fire. Despite the military decoration, Romo grew increasingly disillusioned with the role of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and when his nephew was killed in an ambush, Romo escorted his body home and served out the remainder of his tour stateside, training troops at Fort Ord, California. By the fall of 1968, Romo was discharged from the Army and two years later became involved in the controversial Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Romo helped to organize demonstrations in Washington, D.C. that included veterans’ testimony before Congress, search and destroy reenactments, and an unprecedented act of hundreds of vets throwing away the medals they had earned in Vietnam. Barry Romo is still a patriot who believes in the responsibility of the government to its people and the citizen’s responsibility to speak out in the cause of fairness and democracy.