Many men and women from Craig have served “our country” proudly. Craig County has over 100 Veterans.
This November 11, Veterans Day, Craig County “wishes to salute all of you for your dedication in your service, your heart for your country and your tenacity to continue to uphold our freedom and constitutional rights in the United States of America.”
An appreciation letter, along with a “Blessing Card” was mailed to Veterans (and active military as well), from the Military HONOR team and the community businesses as well as some citizens.
All agreed, “We wish to let them know how much we appreciate their service to our country and our community.”
Several Veterans shared a little bit of their military past.
Paul Moore, who has since deceased, was one of these many faithful ones.
A Craig native, Moore enlisted in the Air force in 1955. Boot camp was in Laredo, Texas and that began his journey for the next 20 years throughout many states and countries overseas including; Greenland, Vietnam, Japan and other places. “In the 20 years of my service, I served about 50 percent of my time overseas,” he had previously said.
Moore served as State commander for 3-4 years, including All-American status in 1999-2000. He was on the National Council Administration Board, representing Virginia and West Virginia in 2003 and 2004. Moore served on many committees, including the POW /MIA multiple times as well as other national committees until he retired in 1975 from the Pentagon. He was with Air Force Intelligence on the Inspector General Team.
“I joined the VFW in 1976,” Moore said. “As a Veteran, my belief is that all of our Veterans organizations are important, whether it is the DAV, American Legion or VFW.” He added that each were unique to what they offered. “However, the VFW it is the only Veterans organization that requires you to have earned a campaign ribbon,” Moore said. “I feel it is the elite of all the Veterans Organizations.”
Years ago, Moore was elected to serve as National Chairman. “My wife, Ann, and I were privileged to escort the winners of the Voice of Democracy all around Washington DC that week,” he had shared. “I was very proud of them and I have to say that was one of the most favorite times I have experienced.”
“Sparky” Stull was drafted in 1967. “I had signed up for the Navy and was on the waiting list, but in the meantime, I got drafted into the Air Force to Fort Bragg in 1968.” he said. “We were the support unit for Vietnam, bringing in the Army Supply Truck.”
Many Americans today agree that the Vietnam Veterans were treated disrespectfully in some areas, when they came back to the USA from the earlier wars.
When he came out of the service in 1970, he went to work for Hercules in Covington and later drove a truck for a major company.
“The VFW means a lot to us,” Stull shared. “We are trying to get the word out about the benefits of joining the VFW as much as we can.”
Ken Looney joined the Navy and started in boot camp at Great Lakes Illinois in 1966.
“Four of us in our high school senior class joined together in the buddy system which meant we were supposed to go through our entire service together,” Looney said. “We went to our 13-week boot camp and then were sent in four completely different directions.”
“One of the biggest ‘chewing out’ I got in the Navy was when I was an E-6,” Looney shared. “The Admiral was coming in and everybody had to be spiffy.” Looney added that the officer’s desk “looked like Dennis the Menace had been in there with firecrackers,” so they rearranged and organized everything to where it looked nice. “He came in and was so hot; we got chewed out for 15 minutes.”
Looney became an Air Crewman in Pensacola, Florida and went to the USS America and onto Vietnam for two campaigns. In 1970, he got out of the Navy and worked for GE for 11 months. He was a P-3 on a submarine for 16 years before getting promoted to Master Chief. “I was offered an E-9 but I turned it down, and came out as an E-8,” Looney shared. “They wanted to send me to California, but not my family due to the cost of living.”
He declined the promotion to stay with his family and retired as an E-8 in 1989. He toured 38 different countries while in the service, giving 22 years to the Navy. He then took a job at ITT and retired after nearly 23 years in 2010.
Current Post Commander Billy Lee , who joined the Marines in June of 1968, said, “I was sent to Paris Island, Vietnam. in August of 1968. I was in the Infantry, assigned 2nd battalion – 3rd Marines and was assigned to patrol DMZ and up and down Laos. We never came in, we just patrolled.”
He left Vietnam in September of 1969 and came home. Lee shared that at that time there were more Marines enlisted than in the history of the Marine Corp, therefore if you had less than six months left to serve, they would let you out.
Lee added that he and his school buddy, Danny McPherson joined the Marine Corp on the same buddy plan. “We were together through boot camp and then I didn’t see him for four years,” he said.
“They told me they would give me Sergeant stripes, $5,000 and choice of duty stations if I would ‘re-up.’” Lee added. “That was a lot of money back then.” His intentions were to do just so. “I got back home and met Susie and that was that.” Lee fell in love and did not re-enlist.
He then went to work for the Railroad and stayed there 36 years until 2004. “At that time, they started airing Desert Storm on television,” Lee said. “It was then that I started getting PTSD and the railroad said I couldn’t work there any longer, so they gave me my pension.”
Lee had a faithful service dog named Marine who was trained to recognize the signs of PTSD, such as to awaken Lee if he is having a nightmare in his sleep. Marine has since passed. “He was a good companion,” Lee said who eventually got a new one.
Walter Marsden joined the U.S. Navy in 1962. He was stationed on USS Galveston CLG-3 for over three years.
He shared that from then, he toured through Panama Canal to San Diego, then the Pacific Fleet for two West Pac cruises.
“The first one was all sight seeing ports in Japan, Formosa, Guam and Hawaii too many times, along with Hong Kong. It was a wonderful free trip,” he said. “The 2nd West Pac was all Vietnam and not much fun. We had six months of shelling and picking up down pilots.”
He added, “I love this country and the men I served with felt the same way. The VFW is a service organization for the men that served in war zones. It reaches out to all Americans so they hopefully will know what a great country we live in.”
Bill Burleson served in the Naval Air Reserve in Norfolk from 1962 to 1966. He then joined the United States Air Force, serving Vietnam and Thailand 1967 – 1968, Mather AFB California 1968 – 1971, Aviano AB Italy 1971 – 1975, Special Agent Air Force Office of Special Investigations Griffiss AFB NY 1975 – 1977, Pentagon in Washington DC 1977 – 1981, Langley AFB 1981 – 1984, Osan AB Korea 1984 – 1985, Langley AFB 1985 – 1991 when he retired.
“Thirty years go by quicker than you think,” he shared. “The close friends you make in the military are friends you keep for life. I still have contact with many of them.” (PICK UP HERE)
Burleson added, “The VFW members is the one group of people that, although they come from different branches of service, understand what military people have gone through. For this reason, they are the most supportive of their fellow Vets.”
Jim Cady served in the U.S. Navy from December of 1963 until 1976 as a Nuclear Reactor Operator, diver and a welder.
“There was lots of action on the diesel submarine as a navy diver in Western Pacific during the Vietnam War,” he said. “There were several 90-day patrols on two nuclear submarines.”
Cady shared that he then met a service hospital Corpsman, Chief Paul Beaudoin. “We are still lifetime friends!” he exclaimed.
Adding, “Being a part of the VFW means respect for my fellow Veterans and remembrance of those who didn’t return.”
Danny Kendall served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, first enlisting on May 31, 1962, “at the ripe old age of 17”, he shared. “My first assignment was at Fort Gordon Georgia for basic training for 10 weeks.”
He then was sent to Fort Monmouth New Jersey for Fire Distribution School for 12 weeks and later to Fort Dix New Jersey for an additional nine weeks of training for Morse Code to be a radio operator.
“After that, I was assigned for seven weeks to Parachutist school at Fort Benning, Georgia and upon completion I was sent to Okinawa Japan and assigned to the 503rd Airborne Battle Group, which later on my tour became the 173rd Airborne Brigade where I served 13 months,” Kendall shared.
His next assignment was to 82nd Signal Battalion at Fort Bragg North Carolina to the 82nd Airborne Division.
“During my time in the 82nd Signal Battalion, my unit was called in on alert and approximately 24 hours later we were on a C-130 Aircraft with live ammo being issued,” Kendall explained. “Also, parachutes were stacked in front of the bay of the aircraft for in flight rigging. We were on the way to knock down an uprising in the Dominion Republic.”
He noted that it only took four days to get it under control. Six month later he was sent back to Fort Bragg.
“Then in April, I received orders to go to Vietnam to the 1st Calvary Division Airmobile, 1st Brigade Airborne,” he shared. “After a hectic 12 months, I returned to Fort Bragg with only hearing loss. I was a lucky one as some guys were injured terribly, and some paid the ultimate price.”
During Kendall’s tour in Vietnam, he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
After his tour of duty in Vietnam, Kendall was assigned to B Company of the 307th Combat Engineers.
“I reenlisted to go to Alaska and spend three wonderful years in Alaska and had many friends,” he said. “I was then assigned to go back to Fort Bragg to the 3rd Battalion Airborne 325 Infantry 82nd Airborne in 1974, where I stayed for the next eight years, until I retired, with 20 years of continued service.”
Kendall shared, “Would I do it again? If I had to do it all over, I would do it again, only better!”
Moore once summed up the feelings of many of the Veterans. “After I got out, I chose not to quit serving,” he said. “We’re not on active duty but we are all still serving.”
And like a true battalion, the men of the Local VFW #4491 serve together, for one another and for their community.
“To all of the Veterans of Craig County, please know that you hold a special place in our hearts for all you did and what you stand for in our country and our community! You are loved; you are cherished, and you are honored! We thank YOU!” signed, your comrades of citizens of the beautiful and free, Craig County.