In 1966, USMC Corporal Larry Hughes was a young grunt on patrol in the rice paddies of Vietnam. One day, he apparently lost his dog tags in a rice field in Da Nang Province, where he was based, but he never told anyone about the loss. Nor, according to his son Carl, did he talk much about his service in the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam. In Carl’s words, “He was very humble. He never talked about his time in the service.”
But the family got a reminder of his service and a memento of his time in Vietnam after former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and Notre Dame Professor Michael Desch took a trip to Vietnam with a group of students in October of 2022. While there, the group was approached by a villager who said that he had found six dog tags while plowing his rice fields over the years since the war.
Professor Desch, speaking about that, said “He said, ‘Oh, by the way, I have six dog tags that we found over the years plowing is rice fields.’ And he had one on his keychain. And I asked if we could bring it back.”
So, he and former Senator Webb agreed and took the tag back to the United States, where they found that it belonged to Mr. Hughes and that, though he is sadly no longer alive, members of his family are still around and were able to receive the tags. So he made it his mission to return the identification tags, saying “I was like, ‘we need to find this person.’ It’s so symbolic.” He was able to arrange a ceremony with the Pentagon where he brought the dog tags to the family.
Patricia Hughes Pricket, the sister of Mr. Hughes, said “I couldn’t believe it. It was like a step back in time. I was always so proud of Larry. There was never a moment when I was not proud of him. And I’m just glad that he’s been recognized.”
Patricia also commented on how glad she is that Vietnam vets are finally getting the thanks and recognition they deserve, saying “That means the world and the Vietnam vets are getting recognition that they didn’t get before.” That was in the context of her saying that he might not have mentioned his service because of the hate directed at Vietnam vets when they returned home from overseas, as Fox News Digital reported, saying “Hughes reportedly never explained to his family why he didn’t say much about his time in Vietnam, but his sister believes it might have to do with feeling like his service was not appreciated by some at the time.”
Carl, commenting on what the Vietnamese peasant’s finding, safeguarding, and returning of the dog tags symbolically means, said “The two sides hated each other, and look how they come together now that how quickly you can build that friendship, that bond. And that’s what the world needs, is everybody can get along and love each other.”
By: Will Tanner. Follow me on Twitter @Will_Tanner_1
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