That occurred in 2011. A couple of years later, Barr made a customary stop at the Department of Veteran’s blood lab in Minneapolis. By chance, he bumped into Vietnam vet George Dahl, a retired school teacher from Woodbury, who was sporting a Soui Tre cap with a crest of the 22nd Infantry.
You rescued us that day, he said to Dahl.
As with most the veterans at the reunion, Dahl was drafted to supply a troop surge in 1966. He is now 70, and was a 20-year-old squad leader in an armored personnel carrier at the Vietnamese village. He recalls scooping out a foxhole, which promptly filled with water and striking a deal with God: Get me out of Vietnam intact, and I will do something decent. He became a teacher, instructing at Maplewood, Eagan, and North St. Paul for just over 36 years.
Dahl returned to college at St. Cloud State following attendance at Bemidji State, but attempted to keep his Army service confidential.
He had nightmares and would scream, he explained. He awakened once to see his roommate leaning over him, brandishing his fist and telling him he was crazy and required help.
One day at the recent event, the veterans were permitted to operate video-game-based training equipment at Fort Carson, driving improvised vehicles with machine guns on top and expansive video screens encompassing them with interactive images of urban Afghanistan.
The men readying themselves for the gunner’s seat were informed they had 200 simulated rounds of ammo and could click a tray for additional 200 rounds.
That would have been wonderful, remarked John Mersinger, who at Soui Tre aimed his real gun from the rear of his armored vehicle, Star Tribune reported.
His wife, standing nearby, said the soldiers had each other’s back 24 hours per day. They were packed into the vehicles and became more than blood brothers.
Barr agreed, saying they were a small band of brothers. No one is aware of Soui Tre and civilians can see all the war flicks, but they still will not fully realize combat.