GOLDEN, Colo. (KDVR) – When you’ve taken a bullet to the helmet like Bill Purcell has, your story needs to be told.
“All I remember is it was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat,” Purcell says.
The Marine veteran came under attack on Feb. 1, 1968 in Hue City, Vietnam.
Purcell is just one of a roomful of Colorado veterans with unforgettable stories. A half-dozen Vietnam and Korean war veterans gathered Tuesday afternoon at Mount Vernon Canyon Club in Golden for a portrait session, to help ensure those stories are never forgotten.
“This is probably the most meaningful work that I’ve done in my career,” said John Riedy, a photographer with The Greatest Generations Foundation. The Denver-based nonprofit is traveling the country, taking pictures of Vietnam and Korean war veterans for a commemorative photo album.
Ted Gembczynski, 88, of Colorado Springs, is among those who’ll be featured.
“I was in Korea for all of 1952,” Gembczynski told FOX31.
“When I wear my cap or people can see that I was (in Korea), I just let them know that it was my turn,” he said.
Some of the veterans of the U.S. Navy and Marines spent decades in the service. Some did more than one tour on the battlefield. For Navy veteran Dennis Sedlack, 76, of Longmont, service is in his blood.
“(I) enlisted because my dad was Navy, in World War II, and that seemed the thing to do. You couldn’t look your dad in the eye if you didn’t serve,” he said.
“It significantly altered my life to the point that I will say that I’m back from the war, I’m not home from the war yet some 52 years later,” Sedlack added.
More than 70 Korean War veterans will be featured in the commemorative book, along with more than 50 Vietnam War veterans. The books will be given to museums and educational institutions nationwide, so future generations can learn about their place in the nation’s past and learn how to keep what happened to them from happening again.