Navy Corpsman, E Company 2/26 Marines, 3rd Marine Division
Service: Fall 1967 – Spring 1968
One of 13 children born to poor Mexican sharecropper parents in Louisiana, Raymond Torres joined the Navy as a means to get a better education. He always had an interest in the medical field and thought he could pursue his dream by volunteering to become a Navy Corpsman and then eventually attending medical school. Arriving in Vietnam in the fall of 1967, Torres was assigned to a Marine Corps company running patrols around Phu Bai, and a few short months later, landed in the middle of America’s longest battle in the Vietnam War – the 77-day siege at Khe Sanh. Stationed on Hill 861A, one of several defensive outposts that ring the Marine base, Torres and his men participated in some of the most vicious close quarters fighting of the war. Tending to wounded Marines during the battle, Torres was critically injured when a grenade exploded within three feet of him. He was med-evaced from the base – never to return to Vietnam again. After the war Torres returned home to find that his father was terminally ill. Rather than pursue his education he took an early discharge from the military in 1970, just three months short of his four-year tour, in order to stay home and care for his father. He spent the next thirty years working in a local steel factory in Illinois. When the mill closed, he worked drawing blood for the Red Cross, forever grateful for the care they had provided him during the war. Torres spent many years dealing with the fact that the men and women who sacrificed in Vietnam did not receive the proper respect upon returning home. He believes that the many American troops who did not suffer physical wounds should still be considered casualties of war.