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Veteran shares lessons, stories with Enota 2nd-graders
Charles DeSaussure served in Vietnam, Spain and Canada
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Vietnam veteran Charles DeSaussure speaks with second-graders Tuesday morning at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy about Veterans Day. DeSaussure also brought poppies for teachers and talked to the students about the symbolism.

A child asks Vietnam War veteran Charles DeSaussure how he survived the war.

“What’s the magic word?” he replied. “Duck.”

DeSaussure spoke to second-graders Tuesday at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville. He answered questions and shared stories of his eight years in the Air Force.

“War is no good,” DeSaussure said. “No matter what the reason is, war is a terrible thing.”

In his eight and a half years of service, DeSaussure moved more than five times, including three years outside Seville, Spain, two years in Vietnam and a year in Labrador, Canada.

While stationed in Vietnam, DeSaussure said they ate food out of cardboard boxes called C rations or “Charlie rations.”

“It had cans in it,” he said. “So you’d have a can of meat and whatever other things they’d packed in there. Sometimes we’d have chicken and dumplings, a little can of fruit. There’d be a package of crackers, a little bit of peanut butter.”

In his free time on base, DeSaussure worked a part-time job at the movie theater as a projectionist so he could send more money home to his wife.

“We lived in what was called a hootch,” he said. “It was a building that didn’t have any walls in it. All it has was these big louvers that went up and down. We had bunk beds, and it got very, very hot.

“It was always hot. That’s what I remember.”

DeSaussure brought handmade red poppies for the teachers Tuesday, and he gave the students a brief history of the “In Flanders Fields” poem from World War I. 

“These were made by veterans in a veterans’ hospital,” he said. “They do this for therapy. It’s something to do with their hands.”

DeSaussure took a number of questions from students, who were eager to tell him about the service of their fathers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and more.

One student asked DeSaussure if he won the Vietnam War.

DeSaussure sighed.

“I think we could have,” he said.

Another student asked DeSaussure if his job in the military was difficult. He said military personnel don’t question their commands, and they don’t hesitate to do what is expected of them.

“We were all together, we were all in the same situation, and everybody wanted to help each other out,” he said. “The people that you learn to live with in the military, they end up being your best buddies for life. You depended on them for your life, and they depended on you for their life. Can you think of anything more beautiful than that?”

DeSaussure said he enjoyed his time in the military, though it’s had a lasting effect on him.

“I have a heart problem. That’s why I use this,” he said, gesturing to his motorized chair. “My heart doesn’t work the way it should, because of Agent Orange. But it’s just something that happened. There are a lot of guys out there who have problems. These 

 

DeSaussure said he enjoyed his time in the military, though it’s had a lasting effect on him.

“I have a heart problem. That’s why I use this,” he said, gesturing to his motorized chair. “My heart doesn’t work the way it should, because of Agent Orange. But it’s just something that happened. There are a lot of guys out there who have problems. These are the guys that are still fighting the war.”

BY KRISTEN OLIVERkoliver@gainesvilletimes.comA child asks Vietnam War veteran Charles DeSaussure how he survived the war.“What’s the magic word?” he replied. “Duck.”DeSaussure spoke to second-graders Tuesday at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville. He answered questions and shared stories of his eight years in the Air Force.“War is no good,” DeSaussure said. “No matter what the reason is, war is a terrible thing.”In his eight and a half years of service, DeSaussure moved more than five times, including three years outside Seville, Spain, two years in Vietnam and a year in Labrador, Canada. While stationed in Vietnam, DeSaussure said they ate food out of cardboard boxes called C rations or “Charlie rations.”“It had cans in it,” he said. “So you’d have a can of meat and whatever other things they’d packed in there. Sometimes we’d have chicken and dumplings, a little can of fruit. There’d be a package of crackers, a little bit of peanut butter.”In his free time on base, DeSaussure worked a part-time job at the movie theater as a projectionist so he could send more money home to his wife.“We lived in what was called a hootch,” he said. “It was a building that didn’t have any walls in it. All it has was these big louvers that went up and down. We had bunk beds, and it got very, very hot.“It was always hot. That’s what I remember.”DeSaussure brought handmade red poppies for the teachers Tuesday, and he gave the students a brief history of the “In Flanders Fields” poem from World War I.  “These were made by veterans in a veterans’ hospital,” he said. “They do this for therapy. It’s something to do with their hands.”DeSaussure took a number of questions from students, who were eager to tell him about the service of their fathers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and more.One student asked DeSaussure if he won the Vietnam War.DeSaussure sighed.“I think we could have,” he said. Another student asked DeSaussure if his job in the military was difficult. He said military personnel don’t question their commands, and they don’t hesitate to do what is expected of them.“We were all together, we were all in the same situation, and everybody wanted to help each other out,” he said. “The people that you learn to live with in the military, they end up being your best buddies for life. You depended on them for your life, and they depended on you for their life. Can you think of anything more beautiful than that?”DeSaussure said he enjoyed his time in the military, though it’s had a lasting effect on him.“I have a heart problem. That’s why I use this,” he said, gesturing to his motorized chair. “My heart doesn’t work the way it should, because of Agent Orange. But it’s just something that happened. There are a lot of guys out there who have problems. These are the guys that are still fighting the war.”

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