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PC after-school students host Vietnam veteran as speaker

In honor of Veterans Day, Kendra Campbell with the Phil Campbell After-school Program invited her grandfather, Cecil James, to visit the program to share about his experiences in the Vietnam War.

He surprised his other granddaughter, Summer White, a student in the TRACKS after-school program, with his visit.

James served from May 1970-June 1971 as a medic attached to the artillery unit as part of the 101st Airborne. While he was away, his first child was born. He was awarded the Bronze Medal for his service.

He told the students about his day-to-day life, what the weather was like and his duties as a medic. The children had many questions for James, which he enjoyed answering. He talked with the children for an hour. Some of the questions the children asked were concerning his flight to Vietnam, which took 24 hours. The children also wanted to know about the food they ate and the food the Vietnamese people ate, which, he answered, was a lot of rice. One student asked if he had ever visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. James said he is very proud of the memorial and told the children some of the people he knew from Phil Campbell who are memorialized on the wall, including Melvin Oneal Welborn and James Buford Smith. Another student, Brayden, raised his hand and said, “I don’t want to ask a question, but I just want to tell you, thank you for your service to our country.” This brought tears to the eyes of several of the adults in the room, including James.


When asked what he missed most about home, besides his family and friends, during his time of service, he answered that he missed were the cotton fields, which he was used to seeing here in North Alabama. He said it surprised him that he would miss those, but that was what he really missed most.