Letter: Veteran gives local meaning of sacrifice

From: Miranda Branch


I’ve always heard people talk about veterans and how they should be treated better because of the sacrifices they’ve made for our country. I knew that without them I wouldn’t have half the freedom I do now, but that never truly meant anything to me until I met John S. Dougherty. I interviewed him for a school project.

The first thing I noticed about John was the jacket he was wearing. It was covered in patches. The patches represented his time in the military and served as signs of the things he had done for us. The jacket and those patches only furthered my curiosity to see what the next hour-and-a-half would hold.

We hadn’t even sat down before John had started showing us his uniform from the Navy. In hand, he had pictures of the ships he had been a part of, the planes he flew on and the medical pack he carried in Vietnam. Everything he said deepened the lasting impact I knew his story would have on me.

He grew up in a military family, moving from Texas to the Philippines then to Hawaii, and he graduated high school in Germany. After high school, he moved to California to live with his grandparents. Shortly thereafter, he was drafted.

John had a successful and very interesting career as a Navy corpsman. He helped stitch up men and even treated jungle rot while in Vietnam. He was on board the leading ship that would lead the other 44 to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis until Russia and Cuba informed President Kennedy they would remove the missiles. He also hiked Mount Fuji to treat two men injured at the top. He then carried them down until a helicopter finally came and picked them up. I wish I could explain all of the great things John has done, but I have nowhere near the ability or skill to do it any justice.

When first told about this project, I couldn’t understand why we would interview the same veterans over and over again. Now I do. We don’t interview them for anything other than the personal growth that comes from it. If you can, I highly recommend talking to a Veteran yourself. Veterans Day never meant anything to me until now. Now, I couldn’t be more thankful for everything it means to me.