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Ashe County Veterans History Project: John Agnew


John Agnew's Photos


John Agnew's Story

John M. Agnew was born in Clearwater, Florida, on October 15,1947, to parents Paul and Ruth Harris Agnew.  Today he lives with his wife Marilyn in Crumpler, NC.

In order to avoid being drafted, John enlisted in May 1966 with the U.S. Air Force. During the Vietnam Era, those that were drafted had the highest probability of being assigned to the Army as an infantryman.  Never the less, his parents and sister were worried and concerned that he was joining the military.  When choosing which branch to join, John chose the Air Force, following his uncle's advice.  John's uncle was a retired Air Force colonel. 

Along with basic training, John attended Personnel Administration Technical School.  Upon completion, he was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio as a Personnel Specialist.  He served from May 1966–May 1970 and rose to the rank of sergeant.  He received the Air Force Commendation Medal for Outstanding Service for his work with the 377th Combat Support Group at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in Vietnam.

When remembering the days he spent in Vietnam, John recalled long work hours, always being aware of his surroundings, and counting each day with calendars (30 days left was "short-time").  He felt nervous and really missed his wife and family.  Constant prayer and letters from home helped keep his spirit up.  When not on duty John enjoyed playing flag football, cards, visiting the NCO Club, and traveling.  In his role of combat support, John developed a greater appreciation for the American way of life. 

"While deployed in Vietnam I saw bad things, saw extreme poverty, was under attack and very scared.  I no longer saw life as just happy and joyful.  I am nervous still when I hear abrupt, loud noises." 

John also reflected on positive contributions and important life lessons from his service time; responsibility, teamwork, accountability, work ethic, brotherhood, and respect for the military and our country. 

We need a strong military to preserve our FREEDOM and sovereignty. War should be the last resort after ALL other options have been exhausted. I am proud to have served my country and helped others, in a foreign country, fight for their freedom.

On returning to civilian life, John spent several years in college before seeking employment.  The one thing he always left off his employment applications was his year of service in Vietnam.  The Vietnam Conflict was very unpopular and no one wanted to talk about it.  "I felt almost like I had done something bad or shady."

"I would like everyone to be thankful we live in a free country!  Many before me and after me, died to preserve our freedom. For veterans that need help adjusting after returning, please seek help.  It is available.  I want everyone to understand that those of us who served in war zones are sometimes still there.  I am sorry that many of my brothers and sisters who served before me, with me, and after me, didn't come home.  They gave their ALL!"