John Hager, May 2002

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John Hager
Veteran of the Month, May 2002

John Hager here, AKA , DMZ-LT. Born April 25 , 1947 in Newark N.J. Served in the active Army July 69 to July 80 and then in the Reserves as an individual ready reservist till July 89 when they retired me.

I work as a Personnel Manager now. I have lived in Atlanta since 1980 and have been married to the same woman for 29 years. We have two grown daughters , one of which lives at home. I have been riding motorcycles for 38 years and enjoy hunting, fishing and camping. I own a lot of rifles and pistols. My Mom, Dad , Stepmom younger brother and sister have all passed but I have a sister still in NJ. My two friends are vets.

My father was born in Germany and obtained his citizenship because of Army service in WWll. He never finished HS but was determined his first born son ,me , was going to college. I graduated HS in 65 and started college in TN that fall - it was a land grant school so I had to take ROTC for two years. The war was still going strong in 67 so I figured I would take 2 more years of ROTC and go into the Army as an officer, which I did. I was commissoned into the Armor branch.

My first tour of duty was as a tank platoon leader in Germany, where I learned a lot and we stayed in the field. After 6 mo. I volunterred for Viet Nam. I wanted to see the elephant not play war games. Also volunterred for jump school in route but flunked out the first day after staying out most of the night drinking and then puking on a black hat during PT. When I got to Viet Nam I told them I wanted to be a Plt. Ldr. in a combat unit. I was assigned to the 2nd Plt. C Troop 3rd Squadron 5th Cavalry out of Dong HA. They flew me out to my Plt which was out on a hill by the DMZ at about 1400 hrs - at 1600 hrs we got hit hard by 120 mm mortors, had 2 KIA and probably 13 or more WIA - about 50% of us at that time. Would have lost more but they had a lot of duds. Welcome to the Nam. Didn't even know most peoples name. After that we were in Lam Son 719 where we drove out to the border of Laos, for 2 months.

Stood down in Oct 71 and I was an assistant S-2 with some body for a month and a half before I came home. I came home alone to find my family at the hospital where my Mother was having surgery for breast cancer. In the Army I then helped write a momograph about Armor in Viet Nam, was a Basic Training Company CO and an ROTC instructor.

Then I got out , for 11 years I had been learning how to kill people, killing people or teaching other people how to kill people - I had had enough - it was no longer noble.

My most memorable experience in the Army was being in combat with the best men I have ever known - it was and is an honor to be counted amoung them..I had no civilian skills when I got out so I got on my Harley and told my wife I'd be back when I found a job. Left her with two small kids ( she still reminds me of this move) and two months later they came to Atlanta. Been here ever since.

I am not active in vet orginizations although I just joined the 3/5 Cav. Assosiation and have made contact with a brother who was in my platoon. We are going to meet at a reunion in 03.

My greatest achievement has been that I have been blessed to be alive today and have raised, or been raised, by two beautiful , good to their souls daughters. Four of us went into a room and five of us came out - what a miracle! I think I grew up with them. I could not be more proud of both of them.

To my fellow veterans - THANK YOU - when I feel like the lone ranger you show me I am not - you are the brothers that keep me whole. This site and all the brothers here been a very happy and healing place for me. Welcome home to all the brothers............................. and keep movin !!
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