Widow of Vietnam Veteran reflects on late husband's experience a - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Widow of Vietnam Veteran reflects on late husband's experience after the war

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
WACO, TX (KXXV) -

It's not unusual to see veterans and active service members at Shirley Sims' home twice a year. She hosts two gatherings a year to honor those who have served through an annual luncheon.

She and her late husband, Louis Sims Sr., started the gatherings. Since he died of cancer in 2015, she continues the tradition.

"I support the veterans, wholeheartedly. I'm here for them," Shirley Sims said.

Louis Sims Sr. joined the Marine Corps after graduating high school.

"He said it'll make you a man," Shirley Sims said.

He served in the Vietnam War.

"Being out there in the field, you know. When you're on the battlefield, they dug these holes where they can hide. And they're down in the ground and just an inch you raise your head. That's it. Just an inch," Shirley Sims said. "They couldn't smoke a cigarette or anything because you smoke a cigarette they see the fire and they know where you are."

Sims served for four years. After his time in the service, he received a Purple Heart, among several other awards. Returning home after the war, however, was another battle. 

"How they spit on them and instead of giving them thanks and hugging them when they came back, they didn't. And my husband just shook his head and said ain't nobody care but God," Shirley Sims recalled.

Sims and thousands of other veterans experienced those feelings returning home.

"It's hard transitioning from any war and Vietnam vets return to situations where there is no support and there is no smooth transition," Stephen Sloan, Associate Professor of History at Baylor University, said. 

Sloan said there are many factors why the transition was so difficult.

"One the outcome of the conflict, the objective, the nature of the war itself, that it's a guerrilla war rather than a traditional war," Sloan said.

"He just felt like they forgot about him, put him on the back burner because of things that happened," Shirley Sims said.

Shirley recalls her husband getting flashbacks from the war.

"His mind was traumatized. So he would sit in here and watch TV and sometimes he would flinch because he felt like it was the enemy sneaking up on him," Shirley Sims said.

Shirley stuck by his side until he lost his battle to cancer in 2015. Shirley said his bone cancer was caused by Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide, used during the Vietnam War.

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