Hallettsville woman recalls Vietnam-era service
HALLETTSVILLE - Bobby Drozd knew what she wanted to do with her life from the age of 4, when she met a Navy sailor.
"I remember asking her so many questions. I never looked anywhere else," Drozd said. "That's all I wanted to do, and I did it."
Not many people recognize the short, gray-haired Drozd for what she is: a Vietnam veteran.
"I'm an old world, you know," she said, sporting her Vietnam Veterans of America uniform. "It's been 50 years ago. It's not expected. Nobody thinks of the other females."
Sunday, Drozd carried the American flag for the first time to post the colors Sunday at the eighth annual Veterans Appreciation Day at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Drozd was one of hundreds of service men, women and families honored for dedication to their country.
"If they just wore a uniform - it's to say thank you for all that they've done for us," said LaNora Konvicka, event organizer.
Drozd's military experience was more than wearing a uniform. Her first job was as an 18-year-old sailor radio person during the early '60s, using Morse code to communicate training messages to the USS Lexington.
After a four-year stint in the service, Drozd left the Navy as a 2nd Class Petty Officer and decided to have a family - something the military prohibited women from doing. After facing discrimination for being both a woman and Vietnam-era veteran, Drozd finally found a job, but discovered more prejudice.
"In the service, whatever rank you were, in no matter what branch you were in, male or female, you make the same amount of money," she said. "I got into the world where the man made big dollars compared to the women, and that was a shock."
The hall was silent as Drozd posted the American flag on stage and veterans and civilians saluted the flag. The presentation was followed by the national anthem, an essay reading, memorial service and speaker.
"We're patriots, we're not ashamed and we're proud of it and we don't owe the world an apology," said keynote speaker Brig. Gen. James Freytag.
He received an enthusiastic applause from the audience.
"Anybody that wears a uniform is ready to go to war," said Manuel Rivera, a Vietnam veteran, who was a part of the memorial service. "... I think that's a mistake that people make. If they didn't go to war, they feel like they didn't serve their country, but they did serve their country."
And whether they're like Rivera, who fought in Vietnam after being drafted, or Drozd, who volunteered and never left the shore, all received honors.
"They did something at a time that could never be matched again, and everybody deserves their thank yous," Drozd said. "All of us are part of the same brotherhood, with a sister or two thrown in."