This year, Carrollton’s American Legion Post 143 and Auxiliary invited their family members who are presently on active duty, and lucky enough to be home with family, to attend their annual Christmas dinner. The purpose was to show an appreciation for their service and to welcome them into the world’s largest Band of Brothers as United States military veterans.
The men above all have stories to tell of being away from home, service to their country, and even the horror of being captured and held as a prisoner of war by the enemy. These are people you see every day, and probably do not give any thought to what is in their past that has had some impact on your life and how their lives were changed because of the call to duty. Let me introduce them shortly so that you can see them in another light.
Sam Pyle, United States Air Force, Security Police, 1965 -1969,Vietnam 1967-1968. Sam served in three campaigns: Phase II 1967, Tet Offensive 1968, and spring Offensive 1968. He spent Christmas 1967 in Vietnam. After leaving active duty, Sam transitioned into inactive reserve in 1969 and was discharged in 1971.
Carlos Fuller, United States Navy and Marines, WWII. Carlos entered the Navy in 1943 and was trained as a corpsman. In 1944 during an assignment to Camp Leujeune, he was transferred into the Marines, and sent to the South Pacific Theater. During his time there, he was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, and was on Guam, then later put on stand by for the Iwo Jima landing. Because of landing craft availability and heavy casualties, he was sent to assist on a hospital ship, to help with the wounded. He returned to Guam to standby for the invasion of Japan, but the A-bomb drop brought the war to an end first.
Frank Scott, United States Marines, 1943-1945, WWII, Pacific War Theater. Frank was assigned to the artillery, but when there was a need for infantry, he picked up a rifle and became infantry. He was in the battles fought in Guadalcanal, Guam and Iwo Jima. He was away from his family for three consecutive Christmas years.
Nathan Vaughn, Army, active duty since 2010, 82nd Airborne, Ft. Bragg, N.C. Nathan is presently home for Christmas, and is working on his third year of duty. He is a cavalry scout and has served one deployment in Afghanistan. His three year hitch will be completed December 2013.
Justin Sims, Army active duty, enlisted for eight years, military occupation is Forward Observer. Justin has just finished his first three months of training and is waiting to see what his military future will bring for him.
Donald Levans, Air Force, Air Police, S\Sgt in HQ Security. Donald served September 1950-September 1954, of which 30 months were spent in England, France and Germany. The majority of this time Donald was assigned to SHAPE and was part of a very elite group of Air Police who provided security to General Eisenhower and the other commanding generals in the SHAPE organization. Christmas of 1951 was spent in Chester, England, and Christmas 1952 was spent in Fontainebleau, France. Donald wrote and published a book detailing his experiences titled, “Tween WWII & Viet Nam.”
Hugh Lee Young, Army Air Force, WWII, served as ball turret gunner on a B-24 bomber crew. He was shot down over North Africa and held 18 months as prisoner of war in Austria, and Germany. He received the Purple Heart for wounds. After his distinguished service, wounds received, and months of captivity, he returned to civilian life, and became a very active member in all the veteran service organizations. He has been called the “poster child” for the veteran who serves and continues to serve.
Merry Christmas to all.
Dale Robinson is Vietnam veteran and a member of American Legion Post 143. He writes a weekly column on veterans issues for the Times-Georgian.