Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN


From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Decatur County Printers, 1983).

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.

Lillye Younger

PARSONS — "Repairing radios and telephones kept me plenty busy," said Marine Cpl. Tony O. Yates, 24, of Parsons who has just returned from a stretch in Vietnam.

Yates was stationed near Dang Ha in mountainous country. "We had 250 marines in our battalion and keeping the electrical supplies in tiptop shape required full-time operation," he said. "I worked alone when I first landed here."

"It's a very strange war in Vietnam," Yates commented. "It's more like kids squabbling, but I'd rather stop the enemy over there than here."

"Letters from home are the greatest asset to members of the U. S. armed forces," the soldier said. "It's the only contact you have from home. Letters serve as a great morale builder. We all looked forward to mail call," he reflected.

Cpl. Yates said "you never see a healthy looking Vietnamese. There are so many orphans and many of them live in refugee camps."

The natives in the northern mountain region of South Vietnam are "very poor and uneducated. Their livelihood depends oui Mother Earth. They live in thatched huts and farm the land. Their mode of living is very primitive.

"The women take in washings while their husbands are away at war to supplement their meager income. I hired my washings done at first, but later I wrote Mom to send me an old-timey wash board. Then I did my own laundry."

 "There is no such thing as social life for the soldier in Vietnam," he remarked. "You are on duty all the time practically. Playing cards is about the only type of recreation available. Occasionally we'd have USO shows that lasted around two hours in the area compound."

"I only had one three-day R and R (rest and recuperation) period which was at Da Nang. Here good hot meals were served and different types of recreation, including surfing and swimming or just relaxing on the beach, was available.

"Our battalion lived in bunkers which were rooms large enough to house 20 marines each. They were surrounded by sandbags for protection. We had beds three deep swinging from the walls where we slept. Our greatest plague was dysentery.

"The stores in the village handled almost everything. We could buy soft drinks for $1 a can. Our dollar is worth $1.18 in their money."

The talented guitar player plans to continue his musical career. "I lack about 2 years at Memphis State University where I was majoring in music prior to service intermission," he said. "That will have to wait another nine months though." Yates reports to Camp LaJeune, N.C., following his leave.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Cleve Yates of 208 Miller Street in Parsons, he is a graduate of Parsons High School.

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