The Death That Ended His War: 'I Felt That ... I Failed My Family' Practically brothers, both Barry Romo and his nephew served during the Vietnam War. But only Barry made it home.
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The Death That Ended His War: 'I Felt That ... I Failed My Family'

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The Death That Ended His War: 'I Felt That ... I Failed My Family'

The Death That Ended His War: 'I Felt That ... I Failed My Family'

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On Friday, we hear from StoryCorps, and with Veterans Day approaching, we'll hear from someone who fought in Vietnam - Barry Romo. He and his nephew, Robert, served in the Army during Vietnam, and only one made it home.

BARRY ROMO: Bobby was one month younger than me, and we were raised like brothers. I enlisted in the Army to go to Vietnam. That was my intention. And he didn't want to go in the military, but he got drafted anyway. They sent him to Vietnam and he ended up being in my brigade. I became a lieutenant, and he begged me to help him get out of the field. But I couldn't help him. And my nephew got me out of Vietnam. One day, I got back from a patrol. They told me, your nephew, Robert, has been killed. He was running to save a friend of his who had been wounded in battle and he was shot in the throat. Enemy fire was too intense so they couldn't retrieve the body, and he was in the sun for 48 hours. A staff sergeant said, why don't we seal the body permanently? That way, your family, they'd remember him as he looked like when he graduated from high school.

I was then sent to escort the body home. I had white gloves on and the uniform with my medals, but I felt dirty. You know, I thought I was going to die in Vietnam, but I didn't have to go back there. I had my ticket punched by my nephew's blood, and I felt that I failed him. I failed my family. And I still feel guilty to this day.

INSKEEP: Barry Romo, recalling his nephew, Robert, killed in 1968. This conversation will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And now it's easier than ever to be part of history yourself. Record your story this Thanksgiving. You can find the details at npr.org. Search the Great Listen.

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