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NKY History Hour: Never Give Up: A Vietnam Veteran’s Memoir

February 22, 2023 6:30 PM
1600 Montague Rd.

From a young swim instructor at Beechwood Swim Club in Fort Mitchell, KY to a soldier on the foreign battlefields of Vietnam, Fred Hellmann’s life was forever changed serving in the Vietnam War. But with every challenge that Hellmann encounters, he is determined to follow his life’s theme: Never Give Up.

“As Marines lie out in the open and bullets whizzed by within a foot of my head, I took these pictures,” says Hellman. “The American fighting man is needed… so, we go…because it’s our job.” Inspired to document his memories and experiences of fighting in the Vietnam War, Hellmann shares his personal and up-close story in his autobiography “Never Give Up: A Vietnam Veteran’s Memoir.” The book includes his and family members’ letters, entry reports from unit diaries and photographs, many of which were taken by Hellmann himself.

Join Hellmann as he shares the difficulties of being a Vietnam Veteran and his story of hope during the next virtual “NKY History Hour” at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 22. To register and participate in the free virtual presentation by Behringer-Crawford Museum, visit:

Information on how to connect to the Zoom session will be sent after registration. The event will also be streamed live on BCM’s Facebook page at

Fred Hellman was raised in Crestview Hills, KY and graduated from Covington Catholic High School in 1962. He attended the University of Kentucky and later worked at The Hellmann Lumber Company in Covington, KY.

After becoming eligible for the draft in the fall of 1965, he decided to enlist in the US Marine Corps. He was sent to Vietnam in August 1966 and was assigned to an 81-millimeter mortar unit with Golf Company for the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, in the 3rd Marine Division. He spent six months in Vietnam and was promoted to Corporal. In June 1967, he volunteered to be a radio operator in the 81-millimeter mortar “F O team” (Forward observer). He was on three naval ships off the coast of Vietnam; namely the USS Bayfield (a Troop Carrier) and two Amphibious Assault Ships, “L P Hs.” His battalion was listed as a “SLF” (Special Landing Force) for I Corps, which is the northern section of South Vietnam. His unit was also titled “BLT 2/3” a (Battalion Landing Team), to assist any Marine units in the northern section of South Vietnam.

Hellmann was wounded by a North Vietnamese mortar round on July 6, 1967, which hit him in nine different places on his body. He still carries with him today, at least 35 pieces of the enemy’s shrapnel from that explosion. At the end of his military obligation, he had accumulated eight medals; those being the US National Defense Service medal, the Vietnamese Campaign medal, the Vietnamese Service medal with two stars, the Combat Action medal, the Presidential Unit Citation medal, the Purple Heart medal, the Good Conduct medal, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation medal and the Sharpshooter Badge. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant in 1969. Now retired and at the age of 79, he spends much of his time with his wife Linda, of 49 years of marriage. They have two sons, one daughter and six beautiful grandchildren.

Event Details

February 22nd
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Event Categories:
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Mary Jane Calderon
(859) 491-4003


Northern Kentucky
Behringer-Crawford Museum
1600 Montague Rd.
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