Robert Henry hates war. He believes the United States is "going the wrong way" in the current Iraq War, and that religion should never be the center of a conflict.
But with two hats hanging off a coat rack, reading "Vietnam War Veteran" and "U.S. Navy,"this hatred for war may be downright puzzling to some.
Why hate war if he spent eight years in the military?
"I hate violence, I hate war," he answered simply while sitting in his Canastota apartment that looks out to a lovely view of the Erie Canal.
Trying to forget
Henry's "short stint" in Vietnam and role in the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 was enough for his career in the military. Henry doesn't even like to talk much about his experiences while in the military, because of how people may judge him.
"Some younger people who believe in what they see in the movies think, 'Oh, tough guy. I'm gonna go beat him up,'" he said. "It's nothing like the movies."
He remembers being "this close" to nuclear war against Russia while waiting for attack during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. "Bay of Pigs was scary I kid you not," Henry said.
He remembers crossing the equatorial line, and going through the initiation to become a Golden Shellback. He trekked from one side of the ship to the other, all 472 ft., on his bloodied hands and knees through two weeks of garbage, and Golden Shellbacks screaming "You dirty, rotten pollywag!" with whips in their hands.
But above all, he'd probably most like to forget what he remembers seeing in Vietnam. "Some of the things I saw, a woman and her baby, dead along some path, who were just trying to live the simple life but they were dead. Terrible, terrible, terrible," shaking his head as if trying to remove the memory from his mind.