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Keith Soukkala, 68, of Warrenton, Ore., served as a Marine in the Vietnam War from May 1968 to June 1969. He first returned to Da Nang, Vietnam five years ago because he wanted to see how the country had changed since the war. Drafted after college, Soukkala joined the Marines "instead of letting the Army get me" and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. But he describes himself as a reluctant warrior. "I was trained well, but I didn't like it over here," he says. "I didn't like hunting people. That's what we were sent over here to do, was to kill people." Soukkala returned to Vietnam in 2008 after a war buddy raised money to build a school near their old base, and he  has come back every year since then. He usually stays several months and spends part of his time volunteering to help with logistics for a group of Alaskan dentists who work each year in remote villages. Soukkala has been humbled by how well he's been received as a U.S. war veteran, especially by former North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers. "I never see any animosity from them," he says, of his former enemies. "In fact, they just seem real happy that we're here." Feb. 11, 2013.
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