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Stars and Stripes Honor Flight: Milwaukee veteran recalls his Vietnam experience

Mynelious Magee was just 18 years old and fresh out of high school when he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.
Mynelious Magee
Posted at 4:29 PM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 18:14:13-04

Mynelious Magee was just 18 years old and fresh out of high school when he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.

"They said it's a choice between Army and Marines, I said I choose Marines," said Magee.

Mr. Magee and I had plenty to discuss during the nearly two-hour Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. We finally arrived in the nation's capital.

Mynelious Magee
Mynelious Magee

"It's great to make it here. I've been wanting to come, but it didn't excite me so much for coming and now that I'm here, I feel great," said Magee.

As we made our way around to the monuments, he told me about growing up in Columbia, Mississippi, and being called racist names every day as he walked to and from school. Sadly, overt racism was typical on American bases in Vietnam as well.

"It was surprising to me for somebody to walk up to me and tell me to my face, 'I want you to know that I hate (expletive) and I'm going to kill you before I leave here,'" said Magee.

The Vietnam War was the first American war in which Black and white troops were not formally segregated. As we approached the King Monument, you couldn't help but reflect on his dream of a color-blind society.

"It means a lot to me, for me to be where I am right now is because of him," said Magee.

It seems that the more time Black and white soldiers spent together, the more they realized what they had in common.

"I had so many friends, we had a little PX club not far from the base...they found out that I was managing the club, I had as many whites in my hut as I did Blacks."

According to the African American Registry, Blacks were more likely to be drafted to Vietnam than whites. Though comprising 11% of the U.S. population in 1967, African-Americans were 16.3% of all draftees.

"I know a lot of people said we shouldn't be going there and I kinda agree with them because I didn't know why I was going there," said Magee.

Mr. Magee and I made our way to the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. He reminisced about one of his Vietnam buddies William Magerr III who was killed in the war. He was thrilled that we were able to locate his name and photo.

Mynelious Magee
Mynelious Magee, right.
Mynelious Magee
Mynelious Magee, right, with TMJ4's Andrea Williams.

"Oh man, finding that man's name and they drew up his picture for me, that did it! I'll never see him again, but on paper, I will."

For the American soldiers that did return home (from Vietnam), they often faced scorn as the war became increasingly unpopular. But the fanfare that they didn't receive back then, they certainly got on this Honor Flight. Mr. Magee even had an entire boy scout troop there with signs bearing his name!

"I feel like a star," said Magee.

If you are someone you know is interested in finding out more about the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, visit the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight website.

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