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Remembering the true reason for Memorial Day weekend; Honoring those who served in uniform, and died

Sydney Rae

Ventura County Vietnam veteran talks about his wartime experience; He says you learn to live with the fear.

He was just 19…a kid from Little Rock, Arkansas…when he got the word. His Ventura County-based Navy was shipping out to the war in Vietnam.

"We were in a dangerous zone. It's a little spooky," said Ed Evans. He was a Seabee. He was a part of what’s known as the Unites States Naval Construction Battalions. It’s an elite group of construction workers also trained in combat, so they could build bases and other facilities in combat zones.

"You get rockets dropping in. You don't know where they are going to fall. You just do what you gotta do, and keep moving forward," said Evans.

The Fillmore man says his unit, Mobile Construction Battalion Three, deployed in 1968, spending nearly a year in Vietnam. Evans says after a while, you accepted the idea that danger, and death were a part of being in a war zone.

"After we got used to it, we would just do our job, and if anything bad happened, we just dealt with it," said Evans. "We did get a lock of rocket fire and mortars into our camp."

Evans says he and his unit were lucky…no one from the battalion was killed. He was a career Seabee, serving nearly three decades before retiring as a Chief Petty Officer in 1993.

Evans then had a whole new career in Ventura County, using his skills to work for the Ventura County Parks Department, and the United Water Conservation District.

He and his wife Renee have been married for more than 50 years, with four kids, 11 grandkids, and one great-grandchild.

It’s been more than a half century since Evans served on the front lines, but the now 73-year-old Ventura County man says Memorial Day has special meaning to him.

"It's the memories of all the guys who fought, and didn't make it back," said Evans. "They were your brothers in arms."

Evans says many kids today don’t even know about the Vietnam War, He and some of his fellow veterans speak at the some of the county’s schools.

The veterans is very matter-of-fact about his time in uniform. Evans says he did what he felt he had to serve his country. "I've always been proud of being in the military," said Evans. "I did what I had to do, and I'm proud of it."