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Triumph And Loss: Steelers Champion And Author Rocky Bleier Reflects On Emotional Trip To Vietnam

Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
Four-time Steelers Super Bowl champion Rocky Bleier visited 90.5 WESA on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018.

Less than a year after being drafted by the Steelers in 1968, Rocky Bleier was drafted again, this time into the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam. During a Viet Cong ambush, he was wounded in both legs.

Doctors said he'd never play in the NFL again, but nearly 50 years later, as a four-time Super Bowl champion and author, he returned to Vietnam for the first time since the war.

"I thought I had come to terms with Vietnam and my experience specifically ... unlike the average Vietnam veteran coming back who repressed his feelings because of what was taking place here. Because of how they were looked upon by the general public, the unpopularity of this war. They repress feelings, go back to either school or work and went on with their lives without ever having beed recognized or having talked about it."

Bleier says he was uniquely able to recover from his "personal war," because he spent so many years considering and retelling his story through interviews, writing and film. But a few weeks ago, standing in a rice paddy where his brothers died five decades ago, he let himself grieve.

Bleier recently released a revised edition of his book "Fighting Back" with a new foreword by fellow Steeler and Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva. The book's proceeds support veterans.

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