The stories of Louisiana's Vietnam Veterans are being brought to light

PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - "One day somebody comes in waving sheets at me and said you got your invitation, you are crossing the pond," said retired veteran Rev. Richard Vidrine

Vidrine served in Vietnam, shipping out in 1969 at the age of 20.

"It changes your life forever, nothing is ever the same again," Vidrine said.

While he has worn many hats in his lifetime, he said the military made the biggest impact.

"I mean life gets back to normal, but you are changed," Vidrine said.

He is one of many local veterans sharing their stories for Louisiana Public Broadcasting's oral history series.

LPB Underwriting Director Jeanne Smith said they are asking veterans to talk about their experience and sign a large map of Vietnam on the spot where they served.

"It serves as a unique way to get veterans to open up when other methods may not work," Smith said.

The new series is also helping to bring old friends Pete Catalano, Wayne Denley and Ricky Edgerton back together.

"We went into the Marine Corps together 50 years ago," Denley said. "We went through training together, two of us were in Vietnam together."

They keep in contact periodically, but for two of them it was a blast from the past.

"With Ricky, when I walked in here today, I haven't seen him since we left infantry training in California together about 40 years ago I guess," Catalano said.

"Almost 50 years," Denley said.

They said this is the first time anyone has been interested in their story.

"I'd like to thank everyone for giving us the opportunity for putting these memories down on tape," Catalano said.

The stories will also be uploaded to their website.

"They will be there as a remembrance for your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, your great-great-grandchildren."

Finally, retired from both his military and civilian careers, Vidrine said its been quite the journey.

"I closed a chapter of a long life," Vidrine said.

He urges everyone to live life to the fullest as he has.

"Whatever you do, do it with all you've got," Vidrine said. "Loving god, loving country, loving your family and serving your fellow man."

LPB urges any Vietnam veteran interested in sharing their story to reach out. There is more information on their website at http://www.lpb.org/index.php?/site/programs/vietnam.