NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Maybe it’s human nature to smile for the camera, even though there’s not much to smile about.
John “Sammy” Ashworth has countless photographs of his time in Vietnam.
PHOTOS: Heroes of Tennessee
Even though the conditions were harsh, Ashworth and his fellow soldiers can be seen smiling in many of the pictures.
He was drafted in 1965 at the age of 22 and after a year of training, he was sent to Vietnam as a mortarman, going behind enemy lines to launch mortar shells.
In November of 1966, Ashworth was hit in the arm with shrapnel and injured, earning a Purple Heart for his injuries, before returning to duty.
Almost 30 years after returning home to Lebanon, Tennessee, Ashworth went to a Veterans Day parade and liked what he saw. Now he takes part in parades all over Middle Tennessee.
Ashworth’s primary mode of transportation is also his parade car.
He had a vinyl wrap put on his car, featuring dozens of photos from his time in Vietnam. The images also include his Purple Heart certificate and a picture of his late wife.
During his day-to-day motoring, the vehicle gets him lots of positive attention from passers-by.
“Waving and honking,” Ashworth said. “It used to scare me. I didn’t know what they were honking about.”
Now 72, Ashworth is proud to honor those he served with and remember those who didn’t make it home from war.
“It really makes me feel good and proud to be a veteran,” said Ashworth.
Prominently displayed on the vehicle, in big letters, sums up why he decorated his car that way:
“We Shall Never Forget!”