WACO, Texas (KWTX) David Carpenter was born with a strong back.
He put it to work raising crops in the mountains of Tennessee.
"All you did was farmed. You raised tobacco, was the main crop, tobacco that was raised. If you didn't raise any tobacco, you didn't have any Christmas presents at Christmas time," Carpenter said.
And it came in handy lugging mortar gear through the jungles of Vietnam.
"We went out with the company the same as the infantry men did. We carried an 81 millimeter mortar, me and my mortar crew," Carpenter said, "I'd say it was 150 pounds, we had one person to carry the base plate, one person to carry the bipods and one person to carry the barrel. "
Carpenter was drafted into the Army in December 1968 proudly serving when Uncle Sam called him to duty.
He got to Vietnam in January 1969 day in and day out on missions, and using his specialized training to fire mortars to their enemy targets.
Carpenter became incredibly accurate but he was injured twice by mortars himself.
"I sustained shrapnel to the back and right side of my eye socket eye frame right up in here," he told us.
But he counts himself lucky.
Carpenter remembers vividly when a simple miscalculation from an artillery unit resulted in tragedy.
"One round killed two people," he explained, "one of the rounds hit one guy here in the chest because he was laying on the ground reading a letter from home."
And another solider was killed by shrapnel from the blast.
In fact, he saw friendly fire issues cause injuries more an once.
When he returned from Vietnam he felt his work wasn't done.
After getting out briefly Carpenter joined once again working as a mortar specialist then working in logistics.
He retired in 1992 at Fort Hood in Killeen spending a total of 24 years in the Army.
And it still upsets him to think about the way the American soldier was treated returning home from Vietnam.
"He went away and did everything he could for his county, and get home and get treated the way he was," Carpenter said, "it's an absolute disgrace for that to happen."
And after decades of service, he wants people to recognize how much veterans have done for the country.