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Final fallen heroes from Vietnam and Afghanistan have ties to Iowa and Nebraska

A friend of one of the last marines to die in Vietnam talks about a change public attitudes towards veterans
Posted at 7:23 PM, Sep 03, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Cpl. Daegan Page grew up in Iowa and graduated from Millard South. Lance Cpl. Darwin Judge was one of the last Americans killed in the Vietnam War and a Marshalltown native.

Lance Cpl. Darwin Judge was killed by a rocket attack in South Vietnam. He was only 19 years old.

Ken Locke, a close friend of Darwin Judge, says he was a special person.

"He always was pretty driven, and so always wanted to serve in the military, that was one thing he talked about over and over again when we were growing up. It wasn't a surprise to me when we graduated from high school he enlisted in the Marine Corps," Locke said.

Locke was working at a grocery store when he discovered the terrible news.

"I remember I went to the back of the grocery store and sat on some boxes and just cried. I mean I'd never, I was 18 years old, you don't think this kind of stuff is gonna happen — one of your best friends is now all of a sudden gone," Locke said.

Locke has seen attitudes towards veterans shift, living through both the Vietnam and Afghanistan Wars.

"The Vietnam veterans were not received very well when they came home, especially toward the end of the war, I had another friend who was treated very poorly when he got to the Des Moines airport, so there was just a different mood then," Locke said.

Vietnam veteran and Omaha native, Art Jetter vividly remembers one woman's anger at his service.

"She called me baby killer and attempted to physically assault me, which I thought fairly bizarre behavior. I know some people probably still harbor that kind of attitude, but I never felt ashamed or guilty of my service I was quite proud of it. I did what I was supposed to do," Jetter said.

Locke feels confident that veterans from Afghanistan are treated differently than those who served before.

"I think there's more of a sense of we really appreciate, you know, a very low percentage of people serve in the military now. The thing I think Americans should be commended for is they really treat veterans well now," Locke said.

Honoring veterans' ties to their hometowns is just one way Locke says we can speak truth to their memory.

"They are the best that America has to offer. They love America, so they give of themselves because they love the ideal of America," Locke said.

There is a park in Marshalltown named after Judge.

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