It’s a long way from an artillery base 10 miles from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in South Vietnam to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis, Minn.
Vietnam War veteran Darrell Herges of Milaca now has memories of both places.
Herges, a corporal E4 in the Army, served in South Vietnam in 1970/71. On June 20, 42 years later, he and friend Marvin Anderson of St. Cloud were honored guests of the Minnesota Twins and proudly raised the U.S. and POW/MIA flags prior to the start of the Twins/Chicago White Sox game.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and Minnesota Twins have formed a partnership to honor Vietnam veterans. Herges and Anderson are among approximately 30 Minnesota veterans chosen to raise the flags at the start of Twins games.
“Marv’s wife Jackie put our names in to be part of the program,” said Herges. “We found out back in April that we’d be at the June 20 game.
“It was a big thrill – Marv and I are proud of our service and we were proud to represent all the Vietnam War veterans, alive and deceased,” said Herges. “It’s great that the Department of Veterans Affairs and Twins are doing this. We greatly appreciate it.”
After raising the flags, Herges and Anderson saluted as the national anthem was played.
“I had a lot of thoughts flash through my head during those few minutes,” said Herges. “Mostly, I felt proud – I wanted to stand straight and tall and make a good salute.”
Herges and Anderson, who served in the Marines, were featured on the giant Daktronics video board and given a standing donation by the crowd.
That included Herges’ wife Geri and daughters Connie and Julie. Their tears flowed freely.
“I never thought I’d be on the big screen at a Twins game,” said Herges, who’s attended one other game at Target Field. “It felt good.
“What was really great is that Marv and I had so many people come over and shake our hands and thank us for our service. That didn’t happen much when we returned home from the war.”
While at the artillery base in South Vietnam, Herges was wounded when an incoming rocket exploded a short distance from him. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his arms and legs and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Like many Vietnam veterans, he has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder in the years following his service.
“It’s hard to forget all the things you and your buddies went through,” he said.
Herges met Anderson while they both were in classes on how to deal with their demons.
“Marv has become a good friend and those classes and other treatments have helped,” said Herges.
Herges retired from a job at St. Cloud State University in February. He’s still selling used cars.
And, boy, does he loves cars!
“Cars, especially classic cars, are a passion,” said Herges. “I go to as many car shows and events as I can work in.
“And, I love cruising around.”
Herges is now starting on a special project he will use to salute those who served in the Vietnam War.
“I’m working on a 1967 Ford Econoline Falcon van,” he said. “It will be painted orange and be decorated all over with black decals depicting events and things that happened in Vietnam.
“I would like to have it finished by next summer and I’m hoping to participate in parades and put it on display at car shows.”
Oh, by the way, how did the Twins do against Chicago?
“They won, 8-4!” said Herges. “That made the day even better.”