HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- The Shenandoah Valley has a lot of history for veterans. In fact, there are at least 2,500 people living in this area that have served our nation.
Michael Nicolas, the Commander of the Veterans of Foreign War Post 632, is one of them. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969 when he was 18 years old.
"My mother's words were, you were born under that flag, you need to serve," said Nicolas.
On May 10, at 1 a.m., Nicolas said they were infiltrated at base camp.
"A hand-made grenade rolled in, about four or five feet beside me. I thought I was gone," said Nicolas.
He was one of the lucky ones who came out unscathed.
"I was mad, and in my underwear, I came out calling them cowards without even realizing I didn't have a weapon on me. Then, I saw my best friend on the ground," said Nicolas.
What affected him even more was how the community reacted to his fighting in Vietnam.
"When you go fight for your country, you don't expect to come back having people hate you and mistreating you," said Nicolas.
He said his time in the Army is an experience he will never forget.
'My wife never understood why I used to wake up in the middle of the night and kick, but overtime you start settling down," said Nicolas.
On Veterans Day, he gives thanks to all the soldiers who fought for our country; making it free and democratic.
"Our nation is great because of our veterans. If it wasn't for our veterans, we wouldn't have the freedom that we have," said Nicolas.
© Copyright 2014 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.