By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Bud Stell was 23 years-old when he was drafted into Vietnam. He had been working at a car dealership, trying to raise enough money for college.
"My number was, I guess, up. And I had the chance to go in the National Guard and didn't. Didn't feel that's what I needed to do. I was trained to do heavy armor. But when I got to Vietnam, they told me they didn't have any tanks. Didn't have the actual terrain to hold up a 52 ton tank, so I was appointed infantry.
I was in I-Corps in Vietnam, just below Danang, that was below the 17th parallel. And I worked then from the ocean, all the way over, into Laos.
Because I had a hunting and fishing background, going out in the woods was just easy to me. I could look at tracks in the dirt and say, well 2 people came or nobody's been by here. And we set up mechanical ambushes.
You'd usually go to an intersection of two trails and try to set up your booby traps there. It was just like hunting to me. That's actually how I was wounded, was checking a booby trap I had set the day before. And it actually went off in the late afternoon (and that's when most of the people moved, at night.) We kind of owned the day. Now we kind of owned the night and the day.
Somebody had come in and swept the ground with limbs and no tracks, no sign, nothing. And I actually found two booby traps. And turned around and told the captain we need to leave. That this was a bad area. And he turned around and he told me 'you ain't never seen a booby trap in a place like this,' turned around and walked to his right. And it was a command detonated booby trap. He lost a leg and I caught the back blast.
It was an ambush too. And they shot us up. We had two wounded with gunfire and two wounded by shrapnel. I guess I was lucky: I got shot and wounded by shrapnel."
He was hit in the chest and arm.
"I laid down and called in on the radio that we needed a dustoff, that was a helicopter, to pick us off and get us out. And I needed support from whoever could come out and help us. And the next thing I know, there was people all around."
The quick response saved his life. He was rushed out by medivac and quickly went into surgery. He had been in Vietnam a little more than nine months.
"When I came back from Vietnam, I was called baby killer. I didn't kill any babies. We had a misrepresentation of the people and what was happening. If you're not on the ground, you don't know the real story.
Anybody who went to Vietnam, you never leave. You still got it. You still remember it. There's no medicine. Nobody can tell you --and fix it.
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