Vietnam War

Oral History Interview: Wade Lemons

A man sitting in front of an American flag

Wade Lemons WSIU

Wade Lemons was born into a large, close-knit family on July 19, 1948 in Scheller, Illinois. When he was 12, his family moved to Sesser. He was drafted into the military straight out of high school. 

Lemons joined the infantry and was sent to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. Besides the heightened threat of enemy troops throughout the night, Lemons and his fellow soldiers had to adjust to extreme temperatures and poor sleeping conditions. One of his strongest memories of that time was the immense weight of the supply packs that he had to carry on his back. Dealing with termites, leeches and soiled socks became a part of their everyday routine, and survival became second nature.

Lemons comments on the selectivity and bias of media coverage during the war, and how the news only seemed to care about the numbers of dead. He also laments the country’s lack of support for the soldiers in Vietnam at the time. However, over the past five years Lemons has observed a drastic change in the public’s treatment of war veterans, and he welcomes these positive reactions after the more hostile reception he encountered over forty years ago.

Lemons’ combat experiences left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Wade Lemons