Local veteran featured in PBS documentary humbled by fundraiser for trip back to Vietnam

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- John Musgrave nearly died in Vietnam while serving as a Marine in 1967. So you might be surprised to hear that he’s determined to go back.

“I think that going back is going to be one of the most important things I do on this earth,” Musgrave said.

Musgrave’s service in Vietnam and adjustment to civilian life was one of the main story lines in a recent PBS documentary series about Vietnam.

He said watching the documentary helped him to recover from psychological wounds from the war. It also filled his mailbox with letters from people who had seen his story.

“I’m getting mail from all over the world,” Musgrave said.

Now, he's getting some help from complete strangers to make a therapeutic return visit to Vietnam.

“It would be kind of completing the circle for John,” Rose Marino said.

Marino heard Musgrave speak about his Vietnam experience recently and wondered if Musgrave would be interested in going back.

He said he would and Marino, who had never started a GoFundMe account, got busy.

“We are not unlike the World War II veterans that wanted to return to Europe and the islands in the Pacific,” Musgrave said.

Musgrave still has nightmares about Vietnam and the enemies he faced on the battlefield. He’s hoping a return visit will silence some of those inner demons.

“But the Vietnam that I dream about hasn’t changed in my dreams since 1967, and the Vietnamese that I dream about are my enemies," he said. "They’re trying to kill me and I’m terrified of them."

He's hoping to take in some of the beautiful scenery he missed before.

“Even when I was terrified (during the war), Vietnam was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in my life, and I wasn’t looking. I was looking through Vietnam for the danger behind the beauty,” he said.

Musgrave hopes to return to Vietnam with his wife in April.

You can visit the GoFundMe account for Musgrave’s trip to Vietnam here.