HELENA – Ahead of Veterans Day, one local veteran shared his story in times of war at Touchmark on Saddle Drive.

On Friday, James Tutwiler, a resident at Touchmark, shared his experience of 30 years in the Army and as a colonel in the Vietnam War.

Tutwiler spoke about his encounters with the Viet Cong, seeing improvised explosive devices along the roadside and witnessing the destructive nature of Agent Orange on the surrounding environment of Vietnam. Tutwiler recently wrote “Vietnam: 2 Doors-No Opening”, a book describing his time in Vietnam. On Friday, he signed copies and handed out his book to those in the audience.

Tutwiler said he wrote the book with help from his own letters from the 1960s.

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“My wife saved every one of the 168 letters I wrote home, and I captured – almost daily – things that I was seeing and doing. That gave me motivation,” Tutwiler said.

Tutwiler added that he was humbled by all the people who turned out Friday to hear him speak. While he likes sharing his story, Veterans Day can be difficult for him.

“It’s sad and overwhelming. You do any research and look at the millions of lives lost in American history, millions of orphans and widows and terrible trauma that some surviving veterans are surviving today…it’s horrifying,” Tutwiler said.