Veteran says war taught valuable lessons



    After serving a mission in England, Jim Slade, Lindon resident and owner of American Whirlpool Systems, was home for only three months before he was drafted and sent to the Vietnam War.

    During the war Slade served as a ranger and was sent out into the jungle as part of a team of five men. These teams were assigned specific missions such as capturing prisoners of war, assassinating, ambushing and locating base camps.

    Slade served in the war from 1969 to 1970 during which time he said he and those fighting with him had to be psychologically trained to kill. Ironically, Slade said, no one received training for returning home and re-acclimating to society.

    Although the media may portray many war veterans as having horrific flashbacks, nightmares and hallucinations, Slade said his experience after returning home is not what many have seen through the media.

    After arriving in Ft. Louis, Wash. from Vietnam, Slade said he remembers thinking how “wonderful it was to be home–to be back in the states.” He said he felt safe and no longer had to worry about someone shooting or stabbing him.

    Slade said for the first couple of years he was home he would have dreams of the war. Today, he has a bad dream once in a while but it is usually triggered after seeing a movie with violence.

    In Vietnam, Slade slept on the ground or on cots and always kept his boots on. He was trained to react instantly and to be prepared for combat. After being home the first couple of weeks he was not used to sleeping in a bed or sleeping with his boots off. Slade said he felt most comfortable sleeping on the carpet in front of his fireplace.

    Loud noises and explosions also provoked Slade’s nerves after returning home. Slade said if he heard such sounds, he felt like he had to get down quick to save his life.

    After returning home he didn’t like people grabbing him from behind and it sometimes still makes him a little uneasy. Slade also prefers to sit where he can see everyone and does not have someone behind his back. Because of the war, Slade said it is harder for him to trust people.

    Slade does not have any physical ailments that limit his functioning, however, he broke his leg in seventeen places when parachuting and has fragments of a grenade in his knee.

    “My wheels are going to be bad when I’m old,” Slade said.

    Spiritually Slade said he was affected by the war in three ways. First, Slade said he believes he gained a greater appreciation for the Book of Mormon. Before he struggled with understanding how a prophet, like Mormon, could fight a war and then be preaching the gospel. Now Slade said he understands.

    Second, Slade feels he fared better than those who were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of his understanding of life and death learned through gospel teachings.

    Thirdly, Slade said he gained a “better depth perception on religion.” He said he knows what freedom really is and it that it took this free country to have the gospel restored.

    “I love my country. If we went to war again, I’d be the first guy to stand up and say I’ll be there,” Slade said.

    Slade said it saddens him that veterans are not revered by their community. He said those who served in any war “laid their life on the line, bled for this country to live like we do. No one should ever put that down.”

    It is the obligation of the military to “protect the American way of life and promote it for future generations,” said Slade. He fly’s the American flag in front of his home and is a first sergeant in the National Guard.

    Even though the media may have swayed many to believe Vietnam veterans are misfits, uneducated or on drugs, Slade said this is not true for him and many who served with him. Slade is, and was during the war, an active member of the LDS Church. He was married September 1970 and has four children. He received his associated degree in sales and retailing from Weber State and has owned American Whirlpool Systems for three years.

    Slade said the education level of soldiers in the Vietnam war was higher than any other war and it also had the youngest soldiers with an average age of nineteen.

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