1st Sergeant Jesse Lascano presenting purple heart
David Christian accepting Purple Heart

A Vietnam Hero Finds the Real War is on the Home Front – People Magazine September 14, 1981

by Margot Achtereerg as told by David Christian


In my childhood the only exotic, exciting, beautiful things that my mother shared with me were her military times. She was a WAC, and she met my father in the Philippines. She told me about the South Pacific, about serving with MacArthur, about New Guinea and Australia. I didn’t think of the military as a war machine for killing people; I thought of it as something romantic, the kind of romanticism that poets have attached to war in the past. When I was in high school, they put on South Pacific. Things like that were my perception of the military. My mother raised me alone. My father was an alcoholic. One day he took the lawn mower to be fixed and never came back. I always wondered whether he got it fixed. I was brought up on welfare and handmedown clothes. When I was 17, I joined the Army, mainly for the GI Bill. I went into the military for upward mobility, free clothes and free food. In the Army, I quickly learned that I’m a Spartan. I like competition. I hunted man and man hunted me. In Cambodia I was wounded very badly one time. My boots were blown off my feet, and I was bleeding severely. I called for assistance and said, “I’m trapped behind the enemy’s lines, and we need a chopper out here.” They said, “Look Chris, you’re in Cambodia, and we can’t afford to lose a chopper in neutral territory. You’re going to have to get out before we can give you assistance.” I had to run eight kilometers barefooted through the jungle to the border…