Central Texas Heroes: Jon Ker

Veteran Jon Ker
Veteran Jon Ker(KWTX)
Published: Oct. 6, 2016 at 12:01 PM CDT
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One Central Texas man says the film The Green Berets inspired him to become one himself.

But he didn't stop with one tour in Vietnam.

Jon Ker's military service led him all the way to Iraq during the capture of Saddam Hussein.

"I felt like I needed to do something with my life other than cutting class and playing cards and chasing girls," Ker told us.

And he did, joining the Army in February 1967, going to jump school and officer candidate school, and volunteering for the Green Berets.

He became one.

"We are a highly specific, highly trained small group of men to do big tasks," he told us.

He arrived in Vietnam in January 1969, working on a counter insurgency team near the border zone with Cambodia and Laos.

Their job was to help South Vietnamese men learn how to fight.

"We had about 500, almost 600 indigenous soldiers that we trained, we equipped, we fed, we paid," Ker said.

And he was called to help at other camps when they came under attack.

"I was assigned to go down to Ben Het," Ker said, "that camp was sieged by two North Vietnamese Army regiments and one regiment of artillery and it was a terrible battle."

In the midst of the siege he found himself blown out of a helicopter.

He explained, "as we were about to touch down rifle and artillery rounds started pounding all around us and blew me out on the right side, but fortunately I wasn't too high off the ground, and it wounded the captain who was in the left door."

The attack at Ben Het was devastating.

"Every special forces camp had above ground quarters and below ground quarters. At the conclusion of the siege at Ben Het there were no buildings left on top of the ground," Ker told us.

He had more than one brush with danger.

Ambush attacks were always a threat and one was especially volatile.

"My vehicle was about 30 meters into the kill zone, and green tracers and B-40s and RPGs are coming at us," he said, "over the horizon comes three Cobra helicopters and they fired up that line and they saved our lives."

He finally got to come home in January 1970.

"While I wanted to stay I wanted to go home and meet my daughter. When I left she was a tiny baby, when I got home she was walking and talking," Ker said.

He joined the reserves and remained for years, but after 9-11 he went full time again and he was ambushed the first day he got to Baghdad.

He was no longer in a combat role.

"They called me the old soldier and they wouldn't let me go out with the A-team," he told us.

But he played a vital role when it came to intelligence and communication with other U.S. allies.

"The night they captured Saddam I was in Jordan briefing the Jordanian intelligence generals," Ker explained, "I remember the elation of the people there in Baghdad that Saddam had been captured. It was unbelievable."

He finally left active duty in 2006 after decades of service to the United States, a commitment he will always be proud of.

Ker said, "I joined the Army out of sense of duty for this nation. I love this country."