Naval Background

My military career spans almost ten years, from October 1964 to June 1974. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in October 1964, and was sent to Defense Language Institute East Coast (DLIEC) for Vietnamese language school after boot camp.

In 1965, I was transferred to the USS Topeka, CLG-8, and headed to Subic Bay, Philippine Islands. From there we were deployed to the Tonkin Gulf and participated in Operation Double Eagle, the landing of Danang, RVN.

1966 brought me back to San Francisco for dry dock and in February, 1967, I went back
to Danang, stationed at Tien Sha Ramp attached to the First Naval Larc Division.

Marine Corps Background

1968 was my return to the states and civilian life. After release from active duty and transfer to the inactive reserves, I reenlisted in the Marine Corps in May 1970. My interests were in flying for the military, so I elected to reactivate in an aviation program.

Intermediate school in Memphis offered me the opportunity to fly and I was sent to
school at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, for Airborne Radio Operator and Loadmaster School for KC-130F, C-54, C-117 aircraft. I also flew in DC-3 and C-47
aircraft while overseas.

I spent 3 years at Cherry Point, NC, attached to VMGR-252, 2nd Marine Air Wing.
Next stop was Iwakuni, Japan with the 1st Marine Air Wing. During my tour there I
was promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-6).

In April 1974 I was brought down by disabilities received during my Vietnam tours
of duty. My exposure to herbicides resulted in three skin diseases, received a severe
head injury, and was returned to MCAS El Toro, California, for medical evaluation
and subsequently medically discharged in June 1974. I am an 80% disabled combat veteran from the U. S. Marine Corps.

                                                            Life After The Discharge

Upon my discharge in 1974, I struggled to decide on the future. Eventually, I became
a mechanical engineer and worked my way up from a design engineer to Vice President
of Offshore Systems International for one of the largest consulting firms in the offshore sub-sea oil and production systems field. Along the way I worked for manufacturing companies, consulting firms, and major oil and gas companies involved in offshore sub- sea systems and land based production systems. I spent 35 years in the Houston area in the line of work, which was declining due to oil prices in 2015. The end of July 2015 I relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although I am still looking for work, the prospects for oil and gas price recovery extends to 2017, and I am forced to retire.

My Marine Corps blood still flows today and I celebrate every November 10th when the Marine Corps family acknowledges the Corps birthday, our fallen and missing comrades, and our active duty Marines. A prayer is held for all missing and fallen comrades and their families. This is not my obligation, but my very high and sincere honor as a Marine. These Marines, living and gone, are the reasons I am able to pay gratitude for what they have done for our freedoms, and I could ask no more than to honor them with a prayer.

For many years, I was also involved heavily in the Houston, Texas area with the USMC Toys for Tots program. Along with a couple of other Marine Veterans, we were able to link up with the USMC Reserve locally to distribute much-needed toys to thousands of needful children. This was a very sincere pleasure to see those smiling faces come Christmas time. After my relocation I can no longer be involved, but my heart is still there and I stay in contact with my prior partners in the program.

Tribute to Veterans

I personally would like to thank all veterans from their service, and to all military personnel, active and reserve, for allowing all free people in this world the opportunities available to us. Without your dedication and sacrifices this would not be possible, and there will never be enough thanks to show you how much this means to all free people today. As a combat disabled veteran, I know the meaning of your sacrifices and understand the costs involved in true freedom. You all have my unlimited and highest respect and gratitude.

May God bless you all and bless your families as you become part of the history that has made freedom the most costly and most treasured gift you can give or receive. My heart will always be with you.

To all Vietnam veterans and all other veterans, I want to welcome you all home from your journeys. Some of us had a hard time when we returned home and you all need to know that the majority only honors and respects what you did for your country in it’s time of need. Admiration will always prevail as I remember my own journey, so WELCOME HOME, HEROES!! Thank you for keeping the freedom we so much cherish. May God bless all of you who serve and protect.

 In Closing

I hope you enjoy your visit here and I look forward to hearing from some of you. Respect and assistance will always prevail on this site and your opinions are welcomed anytime. I hope you have an informative visit and enjoy yourselves. Thank you all for my freedoms and choices. Not all in this world have this great opportunity. Our veterans are our past, our present and our future. Without them, we would not have this freedom. Say thank you to the next one you meet. He will appreciate your kindness.

Jim Rodgers, SSGT, USMC, Semper Fidelis