Remembering Those Who Served
Ron Chmura, a long time family friend, and Green Climber employee retells the story of his service in the Vietnam War.
This Memorial Day, we wanted to shine a light on the men and women that risked their lives to serve our country. Ron Chmura, a 74-year-old Vietnam War veteran is a crucial member of our team and has been with Green Climber since the beginning, four years ago.
Before he joined our Green Climber family, as our delivery driver, Chmura was a 19-year-old that enlisted to fight for his country around the middle of the Vietnamese War, when the conflict and casualties were reaching their climax.
“I thought, well, maybe if I enlisted, I would have a better chance compared to getting drafted, which I did,” said Chmura. “So I went to I went to boot camp, and prior to boot camp, and during boot camp, I was thinking to myself, you know, what's it gonna be like to be in a war zone, because any military person going through a boot camp, it's not like a fraternity, you are trained and you are trained to kill people.”
Once enlisted Chmura was flown into De Nang where he and his unit collected until they were regularly sent to different locations across the country. Chmura was trained as a radio technician, his job centered around him fixing communication units, yet it provided no greater safety than those in the front lines.
“What it boiled down to was if they had problems with the radios in the field, or before they went out, they brought it to us where we troubleshot what might have been the problem,” said Chmura. “I fixed the radios and got them back out in the field. The radio was the main communication for the ground troops and the commanding area. All South Vietnam was a warzone. You had these situations where you could be rocketed or murdered at any time no matter where you were. And I experienced both.”
While in Vietnam, Chmura survived many life-threatening situations and lived through many traumatic ordeals which he still clearly remembers to this day. Chmura was lucky to survive multiple near death experiences and was able to return home to finish his last three months of his three-year service in Twentynine Palms, California while the rest of his unit was sent to DMZ.
“They sent me to Twentynine Palms, California in the middle of the desert. When I got there to check in, I'm walking around and I'm dancing around. Then I go, ‘Well, this weather is great,’ and the people I was going to be working with said, ‘You must be nuts.’ I told them, ‘No, here it’s 99 degrees but only 12% humidity. When I lived in Vietnam, it was 99 degrees and 85% humidity.’ Twentynine Palms was meant for me, it was like a dream.”
Though Chmura was able to adjust to civilian life, although returning home as a Vietnam War Veteran was not a welcoming experience. He endured criticism and mockery from those that opposed the war and had to manage with the memories of what had transpired while he was in combat.
“I'd be interested in talking to any veterans that was hesitant to talk, you know, I encourage them just talk about their instances,” said Chmura. “If they keep it in their head. It's like having a pressure cooker. You got to get it out. You got to talk about it. And that will relieve pressure. You got to get it out of the head and through the mouth and to other people's ears. And that will take the pressure cooker out of the brain.”
Now, 50 years after the final troops have left Vietnam, Chmura enjoys his life driving around the country for Green Climber, delivering machines to dealers and end users. He remembers the days of his youth, three years spent serving the country he loves dearly, and is grateful for the life he has today, sightseeing as he travels from sea to shining sea.
“I love my job, it’s driving around the country saying what a beautiful country we have. There's so much in this country to see and appreciate. I think it's I think Green Climber has grown tremendously over the years. I can tell that the fact of how much more driving I am doing now.”
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