Vietnam Veteran Rudy Guerrero
What: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rudy Guerrero will speak about his experiences in the Vietnam War, including his combat and helping to reinforce the U.S. Embassy in Saigon at the end of the war in April 1975. He will also answer questions from the audience.
When: Noon-1:30 p.m. today
Where: Gainesville State College, Auditorium (Room 108), Continuing Education Building, Gainesville campus
How much: Free
More info: 678-717-3872
Rudy Guerrero is proud of his boyhood dreams of military combat, his Marine service in Vietnam and his opinions today.
Expressing how he feels is part of the freedom men and women in the military services provide their fellow countrymen.
“You can make speeches, but I just speak my experience of all my emotions — what my life has been part of,” Guerrero said. “Regardless of how you feel, what’s in your heart about the military, the freedom you have is part of the blanket we gave you for your protection of the United States. Freedom is not free.”
Guerrero will speak at noon today at Gainesville State College’s Continuing Education Building auditorium. A large part of his talk will focus on his experiences in Vietnam, where he helped reinforce the U.S. Embassy in Saigon at the end of the war in April 1975.
Guerrero was a Marine whose job that day was to escort evacuees to waiting aircraft. He also had to keep Vietnamese people from getting inside the embassy.
“I’ve seen stuff, but I’ve never seen desperate people so badly trying to get out of a place,” he said, before the 35th anniversary of the last flights in April 2010. “I wasn’t expecting to see all this going on — people trying to kill each other to try to get into the compound, pushing each other against the fence, trying to jump over the fence. And here we are trying to hold them back.”
With humor Guerrero discussed how his mom never believed the son she bore in Mexico would fight for the United States after the family moved to this country in 1965.
He joined the Marines, fought in Vietnam, served in the Philippines and Okinawa and was shipped to a position near Iran during the hostage crises in 1979, which was a “show of force,” he said.
Guerrero was a sergeant when his service with the Marines ended after 13 years in 1983. “I fulfilled my dreams (of being in the military) that I had since I was a little kid,” hes aid.
As a Gainesville resident, Guerrero remains active in the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 772, and the Marine Corps League, Upper Chattahoochee Detachment.
He has spoken to high school students about his experiences. But today will mark his first visit to a college setting.
He expects students will have a lot of questions. Guerrero plans simply to present his story and his own opinions, including when and where American bloodshed is necessary.
“I just speak my mind,” Guerrero said.
“My personal way of thinking and feeling is, I really, really am strong on the military. I am really patriotic being in the United
States Marine Corps, the backbone of the Armed Forces of the U.S. I got out of the Marine Corps but the Marine Corps never got out of me.”