Americans in Wartime Experience

Joseph Saitta

Vietnam War

Joseph J. Saitta served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.  He was born in Washington, DC., May 18, 1957.

Joseph was drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Fort Brag, North Carolina to attend basic training.  While there, the U.S. Army selected Joseph’s Military Occupation Specialty (MOS); he would be a 91B an Army Combat Medic.  Joseph attended Advance Infantry training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

In 1967, Joseph and other soldiers were loaded onto a Tiger Airline flight from Oakland, California to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.   The heat and humidity was like nothing Joseph had experienced before.   Joseph was assigned to the 502nd Division, 101st Airborne, B Company.  Soon his guys were calling him “Doc”, but away from camp they would call him “Band-Aid”, so the enemy would not hear that he was a medic.  Joseph was a Grunt Medic.

Joseph’s first experience as a Combat Medic was to take care of a Vietnamese child that had been wounded by an illuminating round.  As a Combat Medic, Joseph carried a 100 pound back pack with medical supplies in addition to his rifle and other combat equipment everywhere he would go.

Joseph would be awarded the Silver Star Medal for his actions under fire near Fire Base Currahee, in the A Shau Valley in Vietnam.  The area had taken a mortar attack and was in a brutal fire fight.  For 7 hours Joseph continued to aid his wounded soldiers and get them to waiting helicopters to be evacuated.  It wasn’t until later that he realized he had taken shrapnel from the mortar.  His boots were full of blood and he had wounds in his chest and legs.   Joseph was loaded onto a helicopter and flown to Da Nang, Vietnam.  While in the hospital a Chaplain presented Joseph with a Purple Heart Medal for his wounds.    Once Joseph was stable he was loaded with other wounded soldiers onto an air transport plane, they were taken to Japan and then back to the states.  Joseph woke up in Fort Meade, Maryland.

When Joseph returned he didn’t talk about Vietnam or discuss it.  People didn’t want to associate with someone who fought in Vietnam.

Joseph was present in 1982 when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated to honor service members who had fought in the Vietnam War and service members who died in Vietnam.  It was finally a Welcome Home he never received.  Joseph and other Vietnam Veterans will never allow service members to be forgotten again.

Thank you Joseph for your service to our country.

Bio prepared by Rebeccah Christovich

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The Americans in Wartime Experience explores the impact of war and conflict on America since WWI. It honors those who served in the military and on the home front and highlights the values they demonstrated in serving – duty, honor, and courage. It examines how periods of conflict have profoundly shaped American society. It educates visitors about the costs of war, both on a personal and social level. It challenges visitors to remember the service and sacrifices made by their fellow citizens to preserve and defend our freedoms. LEARN MORE

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