RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
We turn now to a U.S. soldier from another war. Brian Delate fought in Vietnam. When his teenage daughter had some question about his service during that war, his answers were recorded by StoryCorps. This project has been recording everyday Americans talking about their lives. Brian Delate spoke with his daughter, Tirsa, in New York.
Mr. BRIAN DELATE (Veteran, Vietnam War): Remember when you were asking me, hey, Dad. Were you in a war?
Ms. TIRSA DELATE (Brian Delate's daughter): Yeah.
Mr. DELATE: I was in the war in Vietnam in 1969. And it was very hard. I was either bored or terrified when I was over there. But I feel very fortunate. I had some of the best friends ever. And my friend Don, he and I went to high school together, we both were getting drafted at the same time. We went in the same day. And we went through basic training together. Guess I was gung-ho, kind of, but Don was sort of a hippy with a short haircut. And - when we were in basic training, he just wanted to get through it and one drill sergeant was really mean and he used to get in our faces and he'd say, hey man, don't you mess with me, or words to that effect.
And if I was getting really serious, Don would come up to me and he'd elbow me a little bit and he'd go, hey man, don't you mess with me, you know? Until I would start laughing and then I'd say, don't you mess with me, and we laugh and we laugh.
Ms. DELATE: When you got out of war, how did it change you?
Mr. DELATE: When I came back, I was really, I think, very angry and my friend Don, he was very depressed. I went to college and I talked to him into going too. And he went for a couple of weeks, and he just couldn't do it. Not long after that, he had a job driving a forklift and he got killed driving the forklift. A few months after that, I had a dream that I was floating in space and I could see my friend Don. He was floating in space too. And as we got closer he started laughing at me and he said, hey man, don't mess with me.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. DELATE: I said, no man, don't you mess with me. And we laughed and we laughed and then I said to him, are you okay?. And he said, yeah, I'm good. And then he said to me, said, how are you? I said, I'm okay. And we smiled and he went off and I went off, and I think that was our way of saying goodbye, in a dream. He was a special guy, a good friend.
(Soundbite of music)
MONTAGNE: Brian Delate and his daughter, Tirsa, at StoryCorps in New York City. All of these interviews are archived at the Library of Congress. You can subscribe to the StoryCorps Podcast at npr.org.
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