Honoring North Central Florida Veterans, Part 2
It has been more than 30 years since the United States ended it's involvement in Vietnam. But for one US Marine, his memories remain vivid and timeless.
Tonight, as we salute our veterans, TV20s Robert Bradfield spoke with a Vietnam vet who says dispute all his adversities, it was worth it.
Jim Yakubsin was born to serve in the military. His dad was in the Army and he says he joined the Marine Corps out of tradition and honor. So, in 1965, when he was just 18, Yakubsin enlisted in the Marine Corps, he says to avoid being drafted. He was soon headed to fight in Vietnam.
"I knew by just watching the news, that my number was going to come up so I wanted a choice and I chose the Marine Corps."
Yakubsin was part of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Division. He says the men he served with weren't just marines.
"We had 40 guys in my platoon. They were all like brothers and we were a family and that's what kept us going a lot."
What also kept them going -- their determination to succeed despite having a high number of casualties. In all, more than 58,000 Americans were killed from 1959 to 1975.
"I guess you might want to say I was one of the lucky ones that didn't get wounded. I had a lot of buddies who did get wounded and get killed like I said, we went over as a company and we came back we were maybe one half of what we went over."
War is never an easy adjustment, especially for the teenagers, like Yakubsin who were experiencing some of the worst fighting in the war.
"To put it simply, it was rough. I mean, the environment would get to you. You're a long ways from home, you get homesick."
For those who served in vietnam, their biggest battle may not have been overseas. Instead, it was here at home.
"When I came back, I was proud to be a Marine, proud to come back, proud to serve, but when I got back, actually I sort of went under the covers. I grew my hair long, grew a beard. I really didn't want anybody to know I was in the Marines.
As history has showed us, public opinion about the war changed overtime and with that change came unwanted criticism and hatred for our military men and women who as Yakubsin said were doing what they thought was right.
"They were spitting on you, calling you every kind of name there is."
Yakubsin left the Marine Corps after spending more than 13 months in Vietnam. He rejoined the reserve unit in 1979. His three sons later enlisted but health problems sidelined him from serving with them. Two heart attacks would force him to retire.
"I had two of them. That sort of put me out of commission. I just couldn't pass the physical for the Marine Corps so I retired in 2000."
Jim now runs the military support group for Alachua County. It's his chance to give back to those who helped him during his 33 year career with the Marine Corps.
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