Cussed, protested: Vietnam vet recalls unwelcome return from war

Published 6:28 am Thursday, November 9, 2017

At 19, Lester Brannon went straight from military training, to saving his comrades in the hot jungles of Vietnam.

In the U.S. Army, Brannon was a quartermaster responsible for ensuring equipment, materials, and systems were available and fully functioning for each mission.

He was assigned to the 538th CCNS Company, and spent most of his time in Vietnam near Da Nang at the biggest depot for supplies.

Brannon helped load up convoys and push supplies out.

“We’d be trying to get out supplies, and the enemy Vietnamese would be firing rockets, sniper fire, mortars, anything to get us to stop,” Brannon said.

Throughout his 11 months in Vietnam, the depot where Brannon worked was constantly under fire.

“It was very scary, I never knew what was going to happen next,” Brannon said.

The nearby airstrip and helipad was a big target for the Vietnamese.

“It was depressing, all I could think about was survival, I was fighting to go home,” Brannon said.

One of Brannon’s biggest achievements in Vietnam, was when he received an Army Commendation Medal for successfully navigating his comrades to safety.

“They were out there working on the compound, when they underwent fire. I was in the forklift, and used it as their cover to get them to safety,” Brannon said, “Bullets were flying off the side of the forklift, if they would’ve shot six more inches to the left, I would’ve been shot in the head,”

The night before Brannon was to leave for the States, Da Nang Air base took a direct hit, postponing his leave.

“I didn’t think we were ever going home, but luckily, we ended up on a C130,” Brannon said.

When Brannon got home, however, his company warned him against going out in his uniform, or even telling anyone he’d been to Vietnam.

“I made the mistake of telling a cab driver in Seattle that I just returned from Vietnam,” Brannon said, “He cussed me out, told me to get out of his cab, called me a baby killer.”

“People from other wars were treated like heroes, but when we got home from Vietnam, we were cussed at and protested,” Brannon said, “We had no choice.”

Brannon spent three years in the Army, and retired from a railroad job. He lives in Opp.