WAVERLY (KSNT) – Serving on the front lines overseas, E5 Sergeant Don Voorhees would go on to turn the tide of battle when his company needed it the most in Vietnam.
“Vietnam was on the news about every night,” Voorhees said. “All the young guys were worried about being drafted.”
For Don, that worry would become reality, being drafted on Valentine’s Day back in 1966. He would fulfill that duty on the front lines, as an infantryman.
“I carried the radio a lot,” Voorhees said, “I was point man, which we carried M79’s if you wanted to, which was a grenade launcher or they had a shotgun round.”
One conflict from his year overseas in particular stands out to him is returning fire in the heaviest area of contact on the battlefield, and assisting making the call that would change the tide of battle.
“In December we had one of the worst firefights I was in, in the whole time I was in Vietnam,” Voorhees said. “It was utter chaos. They hit us hard. I and the lieutenant went forward, we called in strikes. The Lieutenant did use my radio. Strikes came in, it calmed down after quite some time, it seemed like hours. We had a lot of casualties. That was one of the worst days of my life I guess.”
Even after receiving a commendation medal for heroism, Don doesn’t see what he did as extraordinary or even heroic. To him, it was what needed to be done.
“I think about all American men would do it, we hope anyway,” he said. “It just comes naturally I guess, to me anyway, I didn’t even think about when I did it. I guess I was more worried about getting everybody else’s help than I was myself.”
Nowadays, Don is enjoying retirement in Waverly Kansas, where he’s lived for nearly three decades.