ENDWELL, NY – Our Veterans Day coverage concludes tonight with a special story of a man who never thought he would amount to much, but became a soldier, a friend, and hero to many vets in our area.
NewsChannel 34’s James Atherlay shows us the story of a Long Island man who found his calling after serving in Vietnam.
Jeffrey Largue was drafted in 1967, and fought in the Vietnam War until 1968, when he was injured in battle.
“They needed me on the boats that were going to be in support of the ground troops. Instead of hitting the ground troops, they hit our boats, and blew us to smithereens,” says Largue.
Largue, who rose to the rank of Sergeant in the Army, lost an eardrum and took shrapnel, and was rushed to a hospital in Saigon.
He was later flown to another hospital in Japan where he spent 3 months healing.
Once he was better, he drove for an officer for another month, but that was it for him.
“I couldn’t do what I was trained to do, so I got out. Had I been able to work in my MOS, I would have probably stayed in,” says Largue.
The Queens native did not have a plan in high school because he says he knew he was going to be drafted.
What he foresaw came true, as he and 20 other classmates were drafted into the war.
“If you’ve ever been in a third world country, you don’t want to live in a third world country. If you want to live like this, there’s a price to pay. We were the guys that went over and paid the price,” says Largue.
After the war, he got a job at New York Tel, which later became Verizon.
In 2005, he moved to our neck of the woods to help his wife be closer with her family.
The veteran would later retire and move in to this home behind me. He would move in with his wife, and later his father, but that wouldn’t be the end to all of his struggles.
“I wound up in ’09 coming down with prostate cancer. My dad was living with me at the time, and said ‘you know, Agent Orange causes prostate cancer,” says Largue.
Largue says, after his surgery, the V-A started a case for him, and got him the benefits and the money to overcome his diagnosis.
He says he joined several organizations working for other veterans.
He says a man named Frank even mentored him into taking the role of Commander of Chapter 60 of Disabled American Vets.
“He asked me about the military, and I said ‘yeah, I’m ex-military’, and he turned around and he yelled at me. He said ‘you are never ex-military. You are a veteran. Don’t ever let me hear you say that again. I said ‘yeah,’ says Largue.
The organization helps veterans of all wars who are in financial stress. One specific case warms Largue’s heart.
“We just helped a young man who came back, had a brand new baby, and didn’t have any money. We gave him some money for the child,” says Largue.
Largue also serves as Vice Commander of American Legion Post 1645 on Robinson Street in Binghamton.
He says that commitment to the local veterans community has given his life a sense of purpose.