CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII 3 NEWS) - 50 years ago on September 18, 1967, at the age of 22, Corpus Christian Ram Chavez boarded a plane headed to Vietnam.
"I mean I was scared I didn't know what was going to happen," Chavez said. "There was a certain smell because they are cooking in the streets and the shops. So you begin to realize you're somewhere else and it's not home."
Chavez, a medic, was assigned to the 199th Infantry Brigade.
"I though I was the luckiest guy," Chavez said. "I was in a safe place in a base camp."
Two months later he received the news his Miller High School Classmate Robert Ochoa was killed in action. And in December, Chavez replaced one of three medics who died on the battlefield.
After the Tet Offensive Chavez found himself in the middle of gunfire across a catholic church in the middle of Saigon.
His command had ordered an airstrike but Chavez took off to rescue three soldiers hit.
"I crawled a hundred yards to where they were at," Chavez said. "When i got there two were alive. They were wounded but they were alive."
Fast forward to February 2017, nearly 50 years and several medals later, Chavez returned to Vietnam with his grandson and searched for that very same catholic church. After searching for awhile, his son found the church hidden between buildings and apartments.
"To go back and it's still there," Chavez said. "Everything is restored and its beautiful. I mean nothing like it."
When he got back to the states, Chavez called his two officers that were there that day.
"50 years I carried that wondering what would have happened," Chavez said.
And he asked.
"Were you going to blow up that church that day and they said yes," Chavez said.
When he asked why they didn't...
"When you took off to get those casualties, we aborted," Chavez said.
The now leader of the Corpus Christi Veteran's band said he was grateful for his experience in Vietnam and the faith that kept him alive.
"I have a beautiful family," Chavez said. "Gorgeous grandchildren even more gorgeous great grandchildren.
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