WASHINGTON (KELO) — Army veteran Dennis Krause of Spirit Lake, Iowa served in the Vietnam War. He nearly gave his life.

“I was shot July 2nd, 1969 in an ambush,” Krause said. “They killed three in our platoon and wounded 17 of us.”

That may have been more than a half-century ago, but it feels like a much more recent experience.

“Like it happened yesterday, and I spent 16 months in the army hospitals recuperating over it,” Krause said.

Krause says one of the three killed was a North Vietnamese scout and the names of the two American comrades killed are on the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He easily shares the precise location of the Americans’ names without hesitation.

“The people that were killed are on W21, line 56,” Krause said.

The wall will grab a visitor’s attention on the National Mall; just ask Navy veteran Pat Buchanan of the Chancellor, S.D. area who, like Krause, was honored on the Sept. 26 Midwest Honor Flight trip to Washington.

“I’m just kind of in awe at the number of individuals on that wall,” Buchanan said.

More than 58,000 names are listed: each a life lost in combat or someone missing in action. Krause’s name might have been there, too.

“I was less than two-and-a-half to three feet from our lieutenant who was killed there,” he said.

There’s still a bullet in his chest right by his heart.

“Maybe a half inch or so,” Krause said. “It’s real close.”

The Purple Heart recipient will soon celebrate his 76th birthday. That will happen with a newly-created memory fresh in his mind which he says felt great to experience: a photo taken alongside other veterans near that wall.

Reporter’s note: According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s website, the names of the two fallen American comrades referenced by Krause are located on panel 21W but not on line 56.