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Platoon Sergeant Joaquin Duenas

My name is Joaquin Duenas and I was a Platoon Sergeant in the US Army from 1955-1976. I enlisted because I wanted to serve my country, and the ARmy seemed just like what I wanted to do. All my brothers and sisters served before me, but I wouldn't exactly call us a "military family." Prior to enlisting, I was a high schooler and was 17 years old.

I went to Korea first, then deployed to Vietnam twice. I was an Airborne Instructor for the 101st Airborne. Pretty much, I jumped out of a hell of a lot of planes. In battle, if someone shoots, you either shoot or die. I led an 18 person platoon to safety with no casualties, and for that, I am extremely proud.

To this day, my service still gives me nightmares. I still have not recovered from the overwhelming experience. I have a Purple Heart because of an incident where I damn near got blown up by a hand grenade. I feel like while the Army has taught me a lot, I was still too young to serve. Nevertheless, I would definitely do it again.


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