Vietnam War – StoryCorps
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Even Though He Wasn’t A “Tough Guy,” This Purple Heart Vet Made His Mark In Vietnam

As a child, Richard Hoy dreamed of becoming a hero, like the ones he saw in Hollywood movies. Growing up sheltered from the outside world, he wanted a life of adventure. So when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

By 19, he was serving as a medic in Vietnam, and what he encountered in the field challenged his notion of being a “hero.” 

Richard Hoy (left) at his new assignment after recovering from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, and a concussion by a grenade. He is applying a fresh dressing on a patient shot with an AK-47. Circa 1971, Fort Ord Hospital, CA. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.

One day, his unit surrounded a village in Vietnam, and Richard remembers seeing a North Vietnamese soldier staring at him 50 feet away. Presented with the opportunity to shoot, he didn’t. He questioned if he was cut out for war. 

Five decades later, he came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Angel Hoy, to share how being a medic on the front lines of war shaped him.

Originally aired March 5 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Top Photo: Richard and Angel Hoy in Seattle, WA on Feb. 22, 2022. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.

This interview was recorded in partnership with KUOW as part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative.

Friends During the Vietnam War Reunite Almost 50 Years After

Back in 1967, close to 500,000 US troops were serving in Vietnam, including Kay Lee and John Nordeen. Kay was 22, a combat medic from San Francisco. John was 20, and a soldier from Seattle. They were assigned to the same Army platoon and became fast friends.

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But the two lost touch after the war. For years, John tried to find his old friend. They finally reunited in 2015 on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a Chinese lunar holiday that celebrates family, gratitude and reunions.

And 50 years later, John and Kay sat down at StoryCorps to remember how they first met.

Top photo: Kay Lee and John Nordeen on October 30, 2018 after their StoryCorps interview in San Francisco, CA. By Susan Lee for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Kay Lee and John Nordeen in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Courtesy of John Nordeen.

Originally aired November 16, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.