Ray Amelio was born August 5, 1945 in Pittsburgh. He enjoyed what he remembers as the idyllic life of 1950s America, though he was aware of the Cold War and the ever present danger. Still, playing in the street and early television counterbalanced those concerns. Ray was attending Duquesne University, where he was struggling to find himself. The university asked him to take some time off – that brought Ray to the attention of the local draft board. He opted to join the navy and served as a corpsman aboard the USS Wasp, but with the Vietnam War escalating he was dispatched to Camp Lejeune, where he was given field medical training, ready to be a corpsman for the USMC. Ray was then sent close to the DMZ, where he spent several months at Khe Sanh, one of the most intense battles of the entire war. The Marines there came under siege for months, surviving assaults and mortars from the NVA. As a corpsman Ray tended to the wounded and did what he could to patch up their wounds and keep them in the fight. The time in Khe Sanh was grueling, but Ray survived, and with his tour of duty complete he returned to the United States, where he recalls falling back into the rhythms of civilian life without too much difficulty. He was in fact back at work within the first month. At a later time though he wondered about the adjustment difficulties of other veterans, and he became active in veterans’ causes. Ray met over zoom with Crestwood students alongside Donut Dolly Rene Johnson, whose story can also be found here. We thank the Veterans’ Breakfast Club for facilitating this discussion.
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