Soldier's battles span from Vietnam to Iraq

Centre (Pa.) Daily TimesOctober 4, 2009 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- He turned 19 in the tropics and 59 in a desert. Neither birthday was especially memorable -- except that each time, people wanted to kill him.

Forty years after Randy Diehl fought in Vietnam, he tackled his second war. As a sergeant first class, the Sinking Valley resident served in Iraq this year with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, returning home last month.

If he needed a reminder of time’s passage, one came while talking to a fresh-faced soldier at the Joint Coordination Center under his command. Diehl knew a guy back home with the same last name. Yeah, the kid said, that’s my grandfather.

His pap had joined the Penn State police in 1972, the same year Diehl started with the State College Police Department.

“This was his grandson working for me in Iraq as one of my guards,” Diehl said. “That was a little strange.”

The thing is, Diehl didn’t have to go.

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