Vietnam recalled by former soldier

In celebration of Ohio’s first Vietnam Veterans Day today, Tiffin resident and Vietnam veteran Larry Bean recalled his service during the war.

Bean, 75, served four times during the years 1967-69 and was stationed in the country of Laos. There, he was at Lima Site 85, a top-secret location that housed a radar bombing control system that directed air strikes. Bean was a soldier who controlled the bombs B-52s would drop.

“It was too dangerous and too inaccurate to just drop from 30,000 to 40,000 feet,” he said.

Located on top of a mountain, Bean and his colleagues were sworn to secrecy, he said. They were out of uniform and even gave up their military IDs.

“My grandma didn’t even know if he was alive,” said Jennifer Hickman, Bean’s daughter. “He wasn’t allowed to write until he was given the OK.”

Everything had to be hauled up the mountain by hand, Bean said, all the while watching out for mines that had been planted by previous occupants.

“We carried it by hand through a path that nobody veered off of,” he said.

Bean, who described his experience as an adventure, said many of his fellow soldiers did not return alive from Lima Site 85. In March 1968, the site was overrun by PAVN commandos, or the people’s army of Vietnam, and several soldiers were killed.

“A lot of them are still there. They didn’t make it back,” he said. “A lot of people were unaccounted for.”

Bean said he will have a moment of silence today in remembrance of the fallen soldiers; he also planas to email his living friends to remember the Vietnam War.

“I think they should be remembered,” Bean said. “People put their lives on hold to go fight for their country.”

Hickman said she is glad Vietnam Veterans Day has been initiated and thinks it’s important the veterans get the recognition they deserve.

“I think it’s important. It was such a hard battle for them and a lot of people didn’t support them,” she said.

Hickman said she and her family are proud of Bean, who supports fellow troops 100 percent.

“My sister and I are extremely proud of him,” she said.