Randolph County native became Vietnam prisoner of war (Gail Kerns)

It’s been nearly 45 years since Staff Sgt. Gail M. Kerns kissed the ground when he stepped back on United State soil, after surviving 1,439 days as a prisoner of war.

Kerns was shot on the left side of his head when he and his fellow American soldiers were ambushed March 27, 1969, on a reconnaissance mission in a remote region of South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border.

Up until that point, Kerns said his service in Vietnam was fairly uneventful, although it was lonely at times.

A Randolph County native and a 1965 graduate of Tygarts Valley High School, he had completed one year of electrical engineering studies at West Virginia University Institute of Technology when he was drafted.

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