GREAT FALLS – Memorial Day is Monday and while many are enjoying time with friends and family, one veteran is looking back at his time in combat and remembering his brothers and sisters that didn’t make it home.
Marine Corp Veteran Abe Salcido fought in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969.
While overseas, he kept his distance to keep his life.
“You couldn’t get emotionally involved, it was just that simple then,” said Salcido.
But when he looked back on old photos of his time there, he remembered those who never made it home.
Several times, he was that last comforting voice a soldier heard.
“It’s a terrible thing to hold somebody in their arms and tell them they’re going to be okay and their life is draining away from them. That’s a terrible thing,” said Salcido. “Because as people died, you didn’t have time to grieve because there was too much going on. There was no way in a firefight that you could stop and take somebody’s hand.”
Nearly 50 years later, he’s still reeling with survivor’s guilt.
“I feel like I should’ve stayed with them. Sometimes I think, it would have been easier if I just died with them.”
But the hope of helping others keeps him going.
“In combat, I lost so many so any one veteran I can help here now is good for me and that’s why I say now, it’s better if veterans would just get with other veterans so they can relate with what went on.”
Salcido said talking with other combat veterans about their experience helps him deal with the emotions he’s put off.
He added a day like Memorial Day also helps him heal.
“Memorial Day for me means remembering my fallen brothers and sisters and it just makes me feel good that they’re remembered. People lost their lives for this country to have freedom and they at least deserve the respect, because they gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Reporting by Kaley Collins for MTN News