Five brothers recall serving during Vietnam War
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – In the 1960s, one Decatur family sent five boys off to war. Now, every year those men can be found in the same spot at the Huntsville Veterans Parade.
James Miller volunteered for the Marines in 1966. He was followed by his brother John a year later. Brothers Leo, Willie, and Thomas were soon drafted.
John followed a year later.
“I didn’t volunteer for the Army, but I volunteered to go to Vietnam,” said Leo. “All my brothers had went so I had to do it too.”
Despite the hardships of war, the men look back on that time proudly.
“It made me a better man. It made me believe i can do anything,” said John.
James chimed in, “I praise God that he enabled me to serve and come back alive.”
The eldest brothers saw the worst of war, many still have memories that haunt them to this day.
“We were 19 years old, had not experienced nothing,” said James. “Then we experienced all this. Then we saw people dying.”
None of the brothers served together in Vietnam, but when they were finally home, they had each other.
“When you got a family that everybody been through the same thing you can talk about it, because everybody been through it,” said James. “And back here you have the church, and cousins, and aunts and uncles all prayin’ for you and helping you get back on track.”
The brothers say their father, a World War II veteran, was particularly proud of their service.
“He would always say ‘these are my boys! All them been to Vietnam. These are my boys!’”
The brothers did not get a warm reception returning from war, “When we came back from Vietnam nobody knew we were back. You’re on a plan by yourself and that was it. No thank you, no praise you,” but the brothers say it makes them feel good have people thank them for their service and honor them today.