Veteran Spotlight: From Los Angeles to Redding, San Francisco to Tahoe, CalVet recognizes and honors veterans all throughout California. We know that every veteran has a unique story to tell, and we want to acknowledge these great stories. Do you know someone worthy of recognition? Send us the details: PAO@CalVet.ca.gov.
by Teresa Rochester, Public Information Officer, Veterans Home of California — Barstow
This month, we recognize Vietnam-era veteran Don Duncan, a resident at the Veterans Home of California – Barstow. He served in the U.S. Army from 1974 to 1977, achieving the rank of Specialist 4.
When Don reported for duty at Fort Lewis, Wash., in January of 1975, he stepped to the counter to sign in and found his brother sitting on the other side.
“He was the one who admitted everybody,” Don said. “His eyes just went as big as saucers. He couldn’t speak. He was speechless.”
The surprises didn’t end there. The brothers’ cousin also served on the post. A quick phone call later and the trio, who had grown up playing together, were reunited.
“He could not believe we were all there hanging out together again, but we were all wearing uniforms,” Don said. “That was insanely incredible.”
Growing up, images and news about the Vietnam War were everywhere. Don figured by the time he was old enough he would be drafted, so he began the enlistment process a few months in to his senior year of high school in 1974.
Don had two cousins who served and were killed in Vietnam. His father had served in the Navy.
At Fort Lewis, Don worked in supply and as a company armorer. He also trained and served as a mail clerk. A position that led to a job with the United States Postal Service after his enlistment ended.
“It meant discipline and hard work and how to always show up for work and do what I am told and respect authority,” Don said of his time in the Army. “It has really shaped me.”