The Vietnam Veterans of America Col. William G. Burns Chapter 1059 in Clay County dedicated the TAPS Monument in 2017 to honor the 66 Clay County veterans who lost their lives during combat dating back to the Civil War. Eighteen are Vietnam War veterans.
News4Jax spoke with a local Vietnam veteran, 71-year-old David Treffinger, who said it wasn’t until he became more active with the Clay County chapter that he was able to look back and commemorate.
National Vietnam War Veterans Day is March 29. Treffinger said that for him, it’s recognition -- a welcome home ceremony. Last month was his 50th anniversary of being back.
Treffinger, who’s now the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1059, was only 19 years old when he was drafted. He went to basic training in 1969 and went to Vietnam a year later in 1970.
Treffinger was in Vietnam, serving as a clerk, for 13 months.
“On June 26, 1970, we got hit with rockets and mortars, and I am a Purple Heart recipient,” said Treffinger. “It was scary because you could hear all the noise around. You could hear the rockets and mortars coming in.”
Treffinger said it was a scary time. He was grazed on his knee and forehead and returned to duty knowing others did not survive.
“Our sergeant, he died that night because his building, his hooch, got hit with a rocket, and he died,” Treffinger said. “You just go back to work. that’s all you can do.”
Treffinger returned home to Pennsylvania in February 1971 and moved to Clay County five years ago. He is married with two sons. In addition to being a Purple Heart recipient, he also received the Bronze Star Medal.
Treffinger said Vietnam veterans are a special breed and, for him, there’s an equally special comradery between them.