With the military draft and the Vietnam War underway, Barry Sammet figured he’d be called to serve. So he took a high school buddy’s advice and enlisted.
Sammet served in the Air Force from April 1969 to April 1973 and left as a sergeant. After basic training and electronics school, he spent most of three years at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He had a temporary duty assignment at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, for two and a half months, from April to mid-July 1972.
“Honorable discharge. Kept my nose clean,” the Athens native said. His Air Force specialty was navigational aids repairman.
Sammet didn’t personally experience the antimilitary hostility encountered by many service members during that era. But he would hear comments when he came home on leave. “I didn’t let it bother me,” he said.
He didn’t go to Vietnam but he respected those that did. His father had served in World War II and his uncle had served in the Korean War.
With a younger brother and sister, he was the oldest of three children of Charlie and Helen Sammet. His father was a barber who also did some farming.
“I had a good family environment around me that I was raised in,” he said. “I know right from wrong. I can remember two whippings with that razor strap (from his dad the barber).”
Today he lives in Limestone County within a few miles of where he was raised. He is still as patriotic as ever and he realizes the importance of the things he learned as a child. He subscribes to the old adage that “The older you get, the smarter your parents are.”
Sammet said he left the Air Force because he wasn’t interested in traveling around the world. “I was a homebody and I still am. That was the thing about the military – when you go in, you move,” he said.
But he also said of his military service, “If I had it to do over again, I’d do the very same thing again.”
He retired from the U.S. Postal Service in September 2016 after 28 years. He has a son and a daughter, one stepdaughter, six grandchildren and a step-grandchild.
Sammet, 70, is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Limestone County Chapter. He received a Vietnam veteran lapel pin during the 2019 Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration at the Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Memorial.
“You can’t celebrate enough for what the military men and women have done since the creation of the United States,” he said.
Editor’s note: This is the 277th in a series of articles about Vietnam veterans as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.