Not all the US Marines who served in the Vietnam War were from this county though most were. One exception was a remarkable Englishman named Alastair Livingston. His story is featured in this episode through a story in the Ilkley Gazette titled: War hero from Ilkley looks back on his service in Vietnam that was submitted by Annette McIntyre, a reporter for the publication. The occasion for the story was at November’s Remembrance Day Service at the NATO HQ in Pristina, Kosovo.
McIntyre relates Livingston’s story as follows: He was a young lad from Ilkley, North Yorkshire, UK who went to Canada and joined the army there. There was not enough action in the Canadian Army to suit the young lad from North Yorkshire so he moved south and joined up with the US Marines in 1968. Livingston became a Marine paratrooper and qualified as a Navy seal and on top of that he learned to speak Vietnamese. Naturally he ended up in Vietnam where he served almost three years with distinction. During his service in Vietnam he was highly decorated with awards including the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.
After the Vietnam War Livingston remained in the Marines and retired in 1988. Since then he has gone on to work in a variety of roles including peacekeeping, conflict prevention, human rights and reconstruction with organizations including the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UK Government and various NGOs.
His work has taken him to war-torn areas including Kosovo, Croatia, Baghdad, Sinai, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Among other things he has helped protect the rights of minorities, overseen a unique central Asian mine-action co-operation project, and advised on elections in Kosovo.
Livingston’s response when asked if he had any regrets for going to Vietnam with the US Marines is: “Did I ever regret my service, there, in my almost three years of service, or at any other time in my career, military or civilian…no, not at all. I made my decisions and then moved on with my life…to regret having made a decision that then couldn’t be changed in hindsight, would be counter-productive.”
Alastair Livingston is a truly outstanding servant for all mankind.