KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One Vietnam War veteran at Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans’ Home said he was given a choice, to serve his country or go to jail.

71-year-old Daniel Moneymaker spends most of his free time casting a line, but when he was in college, Moneymaker was a bit of a troublemaker.

“We took over the president of the university’s office. We carried him out in his chair and then we ran back in and locked the door. Well, the state patrol finally came, got us out of the office, and took us before a judge,” Moneymaker explained.

The judge gave him two options, he could go into the service or go to jail.

“So I took the service,” said Moneymaker. He was 19 years old when he joined the Army as a Military Policeman. Moneymaker said he spent his 21st birthday in Vietnam.

“I was over there during what was called stand down. We were leaving Vietnam a lot of the major groups had already left, and when I got there, there were about 150,000 troops left. When I left Vietnam, there were was less than 40,000,” said Moneymaker.

Moneymaker was in Vietnam for nine months, and every second he was counting his blessings.

“I was in the jungle, wet,” he said. “From the day that I took off from Okinawa until the day I came back from Okinawa, I was scared.”

So were many others, but Moneymaker said it was being able to trust in others that kept them alive.

“I relied on the guy beside me. He’s got my back, I’ve got his. That’s the biggest thing.” Moneymaker added, “we all dug deep and tried getting home.”

This troublemaker turned hero, for the country he loves.”This is the greatest country in the world,” he said. 

Moneymaker is originally from Washington State but has called East Tennessee home for the last 42 years. He has three children, and six grandsons and in June of next year, his oldest grandson is going into service, joining the Air Force.