Today we are spotlighting Central Coast Veteran, Jefferson Burbank, a Vietnam War Combat Veteran who served in the U.S. Marines Corps from January 1968 – March 1970.
Growing up with a small immediate family and no grandparents, aunts, or uncles, Jefferson was very close with his older brother Winston and says that his respect for his brother drove him to make the most out of his life.
While serving in Vietnam, a few of his many duties included calling in airstrikes and serving as an 81mm mortar gunner. During the war, Jefferson experienced many harrowing experiences with tremendous bloodshed. This includes serving in Operation Oklahoma Hills in 1969 where he and his team faced incredible challenges in section 2 of the operation.
As Jefferson tells it, to this day, he vividly remembers the moment they were running up a vast expanse of hilly grasslands exposed to snipers surrounding them. Although they began the journey just after dawn, their destination was a ‘click away’ (a kilometer) with almost impossible odds against them. He recalls a sudden ambush resulting in many of his brothers in arms being shot down all around him. Remarkably Jefferson persevered and eventually found his way to a rescue chopper just in time.
When reflecting upon his return home, Jefferson attests to the social hardships and injustices he experienced as a Vietnam Veteran. Because of the unique brutality of the war and its unpopularity back home in the States, Jefferson, like many others, arrived home to hatred and harassment from community members for being a veteran. Still, he says there was always a “great comradery, like a brotherhood” among Vietnam veterans, an unspoken understanding. Today, he proudly wears his Marine colors and badges, in honor of those who did not return and finds peace of mind riding his motorcycle across the Central Coast.
Jefferson had intended to pursue a career as a veterinarian for large animals, but returning from war with multiple war injuries prevented that reality. He eventually ran a small business on the Central Coast after college. Today, Jefferson strives to support other veterans, especially those suffering from war induced disabilities as he does. He remains active in the veteran community through his involvement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Atascadero, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Vietnam Veterans Riders, and the Gold Coast Wheelers.
Thank you for your service, and welcome home.