Vietnam veteran discusses importance of preserving aviation history

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TOPEKA (WIBW) -- A Vietnam war veteran who appeared in the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary "The Vietnam War" stopped by to show his support for the Combat Air Museum Monday afternoon.

John Musgrave was a member of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines and served in Vietnam for nearly a year before being permanently disabled. Musgrave was shot in the chest from six feet away during a final sweep of the hilled-village of Con Thien. He said his life was saved by pilots who airlifted him to a safe medical base, and doctors who would not give up on him.

"A leader ordered a C-130 Transport plane to carry me and another Marine to the medical facility. Just the two of us. And that is not a ride that costs a dollar and a half."

"I am forever grateful to the brave pilots to who flew in and out to rescue us. The Marines never leave their dead, and under no circumstances do they EVER leave their wounded," he told the audience who came to hear his lunchtime speech in the Museum's Bob Dole Education Center Monday.

Musgrave, who was introduced to the audience by 13's Ralph Hipp, said he hopes by sharing his story, people realize how important it is to protect America's aviation history.

"It's symbolic of everything that's positive in the America. Character is exhibited in American aviation from the intelligence of the people that create them, the dedication and hard work of the people that create them, that assemble them, to the incredible valor of the young men and women who fly them," Musgrave said.

Musgrave will meet with six other Marines on Tuesday, for early plans on a very much anticipated return trip to Vietnam this spring. KCPT in Kansas City will accompany Musgrave's group to Southeast Asia for a special report on the emotional journey.

KCPT, along with Topeka's KTWU, aired the PBS "Vietnam War" documentary, which covers 30 years in 10 episodes.. in a series that took 10 years to produce. Musgrave is prominently featured in more than half of the chapters of the story.