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Murkowski Honors U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient Jim Vance

Jim Vance, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Vietnam War

Jim Vance, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Vietnam War

PHOTO: Courtesy of Senator Lisa Murkowski's Office

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski released her tenth Veteran Spotlight installment today, showcasing Jim Vance – a United States Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam.  An active member of Alaska’s veteran community, Vance shared his incredible story of facing sniper fire during the war, which led to a life-changing moment on the morning of April 30th, 1970 – a firefight he still remembers today as when “all hell broke loose.”

Born in 1950, Vance knew he wanted to be a Marine from a very early age. He recalls being 14-years-old when his father, a U.S. Air Force airman, flew on his first missions over Da Nang, Vietnam.  Four years later, at 18, Vance joined the Marines and was stationed near that same city.  Vance would only get to serve from 1969 until 1970, when he was seriously injured by a mortar and machine gun fire.

In his Veteran Spotlight interview, Vance recalls the first time his unit came under fire, the close friends he lost, his numerous injuries, and his daily battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Vance says he struggled with anger for decades until receiving counseling and returning to Vietnam where he finally was able to heal some old wounds.  Vance says that these days, in times of acute stress, he finds relaxation by spending time with his dogs.

Jim Vance, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Vietnam War

(Click on image for excerpt of Vance talking about visiting Vietnam after the war and his emotional healing process, CLICK HERE for the extended interview)

“I remember hearing bells.  That’s how I knew I was hit: the bells wouldn’t stop.  After I made sure I could still see and I still had my arm, I jumped up, and that’s when I was hit by seven rounds in my arm and chest.  It was April, 30th at 8:30 in the morning.  It’s like a camera in my head; I remember it all,” said Jim Vance. “When I went back to Vietnam seven years ago, I met the general who was commanding the army that wiped us out, I met the guys who shot me.  They were doing a job just like us.  It was a good healing trip for me.”

“Jim Vance paid a heavy price for our country, and his service continues,” said Senator Murkowski.  “Jim remains active in the veteran community, and he and his son are fixtures at Stand Down events and other outreach programs.  His wounds are still healing, and he is continuing his commitment to service by helping the wounds of others heal as well. We owe it to veterans like Jim to honor them through sharing their stories, and we owe it to the rest of us to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service they demonstrate for us.”

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is Senator Murkowski’s monthly focus on an Alaska veteran of American conflicts worldwide to honor and draw well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  Today’s installment is the tenth in the series that began on Memorial Day weekend of 2012.  Every month, Sen. Murkowski posts a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country abroad in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.  You can watch them all by clicking here.

Senator Murkowski invites all Alaskans to nominate a veteran from the 49th state to be featured in the Veteran Spotlight project.  If you have a family member or friend in the community you think has a story to share, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.

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