Canyon, TX - Most vets spend Veterans Day looking back at their time in service. For Army vet Ron Clark, he thought back to the time when he was 13-years-old -- the time he realized what he wanted to do with his life.
"I got the opportunity when I was 13 to fly and ride an airplane, and I knew I wanted to be a pilot," said Clark. "When I graduated from Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, the only ones who would take you with a high school education was the Army."
Not long after enlisting into the Army and finishing boot camp, he was sent to Vietnam. He became a Medevac pilot, picking up the wounded and dead in combat zones.
"I think our class graduated 144 people out of 214 that we started with. Out of the 144 that went over there, 50% of us came home," said Clark. "It has a pretty high kill rate."
One day on the job, his helicopter was shot down.
"We crashed, hide out in the Mekong River and rolled up into a rice patty. The aircraft did burn," said Clark.
The incident left him with a serious head injury, but also gave him the nickname "Crash Clark" because many didn't think he would've survived. The incident also earned him a Purple Heart.
After one year in Vietnam, he ended his active duty by being a pilot instructor. Years later, he is constantly being thanked for his service -- something that was unheard of in the late 60's.
"When we first came home 1969 and 70 from Vietnam, I was getting into fights within 45 minutes of being home because we weren't really appreciated for what we did in Vietnam," said Clark. "Now, it get's pretty emotional."