Our Vietnam Voices
A Canadian's Story
Canadian Dominic Bilotta crossed the border to serve as a U. S. Marine in Vietnam.
A Canadian's StoryDuring the Vietnam War, the role of Canada was support and peacekeeping rather than joining American forces in the fight against the North Vietnamese. While the country wasn’t active in the war, it was impacted by the war. Canada served as a safe haven for 30,000 – 40,000 American deserters and draft resisters.
One of the unique aspects is that roughly the same number of Canadians crossed into the United States and voluntarily joined the American military. Dominic Bilotta, originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario was among them.
“I’m a proud Canadian and a proud Marine. It’s interesting to see how many Canadians went to Vietnam and did the duty they felt they had to do and help the Americans,” says Dominic, a retired sergeant in the Marine Corps. Dominic served in Vietnam in 1966-67, and spent much of his time in the DMZ. He suffered several wounds and is the recipient of two Purple Hearts.
When Canadians enlisted to fight in the U.S. military, they were welcomed and treated like U.S. recruits. Upon returning to Canada after the war, the Canadian government did not recognize their service, and they received none of the same benefits as their fellow American soldiers. They were not welcome in Canadian military organizations, nor could they participate in Remembrance Day activities. In 1986, a group of Canadians who fought in the war formed the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Association and worked to gain recognition in Canada for their military service.
Dominic didn’t have to face what his fellow Canadian veterans did. He returned to the United States with a job in place in Niagara Falls, New York, where he and his wife Marilyn have lived ever since.