"We never got no parade. Nobody ever stuck his hand out and said, 'Thank you," says Fowler. "I'm still bitter."
There is warmth in his voice, however, when he tells about his friends Greasy Johnson, JD and Ed. "Nobody had real names over there," he says. "Mine was Worm. I was a little guy and still am." I asked him how he carried an M-60 machine gun. "I was just determined," he says.
Doyle Fowler was in Company D, First Cavalry division. They were called Air Calv. "We went from battlefield to battlefield in helicopters, pretty much non-stop fighting," he says. "I was in country maybe 4 months or a little longer."
When asked why Vietnam was so horrific, besides the obvious political reasons. Fowler says, "I don't know about the other wars, but in Vietnam you couldn't see the enemy coming. The jungle was abundant and there was so many plants growing everywhere. You could not see a man 6 foot in front of you. I'm sure any veteran would tell you [the same things I have and] a bunch I ain't gonna say as far as fighting goes."
Looking at his medals, he proudly displays the Purple Heart, as well as a number of other medals, including several for expert marksmanship with rifle, pistol and mortar. "Means a lot," he says looking at the Purple Heart. "Guarantee you anybody that served over yonder knows what that is." Fowler was wounded at Tay Nin. He had 4 wounds in the legs and back.
Asked if he is a good shot he smiles, "I mean the enemy didn't have a chance when I put down on 'em. I mean I'm not bragging, but I'm an old country boy; I like to squirrel hunt. Squirrel hunters can shoot now."
He spoke of things he would want young people to know about the Vietnam War. "They need to know different. I got one word [for what it was like] spelled H-E-L-L. That should be in all capitals. All wars are, but that one was especially. Seems like just yesterday."
Doyle graciously allowed a picture to be taken. He was in a bad car accident a month ago and broke his back in three places. He is still recovering and says he is not looking his best.
His dad, Ezell Fowler, comes out of the house during the interview on their porch in Cornersville. He is a World War II vet himself, but says he didn't have stories to tell when he came back. "I had it made. I was a medic, x-ray technician." He says he was in the South Pacific toward the end of the war. He spent 15 months in Okinawa. "I went in the service in '46. Japan surrendered Sept of '47. They heard I was coming," he jokes.
"They heard he was a squirrel hunter," says Doyle.
Doyle and his dad don't usually discuss their war experiences; this is a novelty for them. They talk a little about the plight of the children who are the real victims of war. This is a story I've heard from each of the veterans I've questioned.
"You feel sorry for the children," says Ezell. "An adult will make it on his own or he won't. But children, they didn't ask for it."
As a parting thought Doyle tells me, "When you leave here, you can take it to the bank. You heard the truth, no made up nothing. I guess I did my thing. I mean I thought it was crazy, but I did it. I'm just glad I got back alive."
As I leave, we shake hands and I tell him, "I want to say thank you." He knows I mean the "thank you" to be for more than just the interview. He says, "That means a lot," and smiles a big smile.