Bill Shugarts served with the Americal Division during the Vietnam War. These days he serves as a “Yellow Hat Volunteer” at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

This Vietnam Vet and volunteer shares some of his most unusual stories from his time spent at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC

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TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors

so i’m going to tell you three stories
how much how much time do i have three
three minutes i’ll take it i’ll take
whatever you give me okay
so uh this is this these are my three
go-to stories and i make talks to school
the first one this is a day like a
and a gentleman had come up and he had a
uh a boonie hat on
a shirt that had peace signs all over
the peace buckle
there he is and he’s got an artificial
and uh he says to me the question we get
all the time and we’re
in a yellow uniform like i have on
tonight for this show
he said do you work here and i said yes
i do can i help you
and he said well what do you what what
happens to the things that are left at
the wall
and i said i said well the things that
are left at the wall are collected by
the rangers and we volunteers
and i said they go over to a collection
of artifacts
that’s been ongoing since 1982 when they
dedicated the memorial
and they go to a warehouse and they’re
cataloged and archived and all that
so he seemed satisfied with that and he
said well i’d like to leave something
and he said would you watch it i said
so he walks down to the apex of the wall
and proceeds to take his arm off
and i said i i and i’m a camera guy i
i’m a photographer so i have to have my
little camera it doesn’t matter what
kind of camera just whatever works so i
took a picture on what you showed on the
screen and
i said to him uh if if you don’t mind
may i take a picture of he said sure
and i said well what’s special about
this uh
and so he told me the story and you see
it you see the papers inside his arm
uh that’s talking about two sons and
they were uh
our brothers one was his brother and he
was combat wounded in vietnam
so anyway ronnie he said to me i don’t
need this arm anymore well i didn’t ask
the follow-on question which is why
you don’t need it but i was sensitive to
that so he walked away and that was
that was the end of it and i took a
picture of it so uh
that’s the the one story the second
story is a little more unusual
well this is uh the arm was unusual yeah
more unusual than the guys
well the other one was from my
perspective was
it just shows you how how you need to
listen so
uh this is another sunny morning and i’m
standing at the wall at the apex and
i’ve got my
little fanny pack on and i’m talking and
a gentleman walks up and he’s got gray
hair like me and
his name was frank something so we’re
talking but while we’re talking
this young you know this middle-aged
vietnamese guy comes up
and ethnically yeah there he is you’re
recognizing his name is dow
d-a-o so ronnie dow comes up
and he says the normal question and he
speaks pretty good english and he said
you know do you work here i said yes and
he said were you a soldier and
i said yes i was a soldier in vietnam so
the question you asked and the question
i asked i said he said i was too
so me dummy bill here assuming that he
uh an arvin you know the arvind that we
worked with
and supported right i said what are
arvin unit do you work with
or did you work with and he smiled and
he shook his head and he said no
i was vc
so that that was the first time i ever
met a vc
uh and uh he wanted my card
and i have a little card i carried and
then he gave me his car so he was here
for a convention
i emailed jan scruggs and i said what
the hell’s going on do you have a uh
a vc convention going on in dc
and jan started laughing and he said
well you’re comrades now
so so the follow-on story and this is
this is the healing power of the wall
and each story is uniquely different
that’s the whole point of this book
and uh in this situation dow started
emailing me he’s a photographer and then
he wanted to know
in his email if i was the guy that shot
and i said well when we when when were
you shot he said in 1971 i said no
it wasn’t me i was home by then tell him
it was me
yeah it was you it was ronnie okay you
you can claim it
the bottom line is for you yeah
okay so that the bottom line is is dao
is a world-class consummate photographer
who’s all over vietnam he’s a retired
general believe it or not
and uh we are friends my my two kids my
son and daughter todd and emily met him
in hanoi vietnam when we were there for
veterans delegation
2 15. so that’s the those are the two
unusual ones and then the third one and
i’ll make this quick
uh is it is another day and uh
a lady comes up to me and her husband’s
with her and the lady’s about the size
of my wife now margin and the lady’s got
she’s she’s coming up and she comes up
with her
uh pretty aggressive and you know the
space you generally have that human
space between talking to people
well she’s up in my face and she’s about
five foot
four and she’s got her fist closed
whoa and she comes up like this with her
fist closed
pointing at me and she doesn’t hit me
but she’s she’s in my space
and she says to me what is it about you
and i said excuse me i took a step back
and she came then she came again towards
in my space again and she says what is
it about you americans you’re
willing to go anywhere in the world to
defend anybody else’s freedom
and why is that and she really wanted to
in her husband that question must have
shocked you it did i backed it away
yeah you threw me that’s crazy that’s
great yeah
shocked me i backed away and her
husband’s hanging back and her husband
doesn’t want any part of this
so anyway i said well i’ll tell you uh i
don’t have any official national park
service answer
or an official volunteer answer but i
said i’ll give you my own and i said
to me the most important thing to me is
is your is your family
and i said the second most important
thing to any american is freedom
and i said we believe that everybody
should have those opportunities i said
that’s what we’re about as americans
and she said well why why why do you
have that attitude or that position and
i said well
i think it’s our founding fathers it’s
in our dna one could argue it’s our
judeo-christian background all that
stuff so it seemed to satisfy her well
then ronnie this
is the the icing so she said she came
back in my space
and she said well i just want to tell
you we sincerely admire you americans
and i felt about 10 feet tall that
surprised you
yeah i did and i said and what we what
we learn as docents to do
is is when you do what i call the yakity
yak you always ask
you know you ask people where they’re
from whether you ask out on the front
end or the back end
but so i said if you don’t mind me
asking man where are you from she says
so that’s sort of that sort of completes
the circle as to why she had that view
that’s right so uh the stories uh
you know i can go on and on and on