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Veterans’ Voices Ve Honoring our men and women in uniform By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017. B I By MARY DRENNON en Dever, 75, of Hewitt, never intended to Special theofTribune-Herald make a careertoout the military. But two f you tours were totoask childrentwo whattours they wanted to be when Vietnam, to Germany, and they grow up, “pilot” might be on many lists. time some 22 years later, he retired fromBut, the as U.S. most change their minds before they1988. leave high Armypasses, as a lieutenant colonel in November school pursue else. D.C., and raised in Deverand was bornsomething in Washington, the northern area. attended Then thereVirginia are others who,He from an earlyManassas age, know High exactly School in Virginia graduated when what they want and and set about achieving it. he was 18. College wasLorena on his resident mind and enrolled in theMaj. That’s what andheretired Air Force University of Richmond but quit after three Harv Peterson, 73, did with his military career. semesters. “I ran out of money and I ran out of grades,” he said. Thetime, desireschool starteddidn’t when hefeel used to watch cropplace. dustersSo At the like the right flying. went Born and raisedfor in Northwood, North Dakota, Peterson Dever to work the telephone company. planned futureold as when a pilot.he Hereceived attended ahigh school at He wasfor21hisyears draft notice Northwest in Crookston, Minnesota, from UncleSchool Sam. of HeAgriculture decided not to wait until he was where heand lived aboutthe six U.S. months everyinyear between the drafted joined Army November 1966 with a buddy on theseasons. “buddy plan,” Dever said. The planting/harvesting buddy plan is designed to allow a person joining the service to serve their time with their buddy. Things didn’t quite work out that way, as both men were assigned as platoon different fferent platoons. They Peterson graduatedleaders in 1961of and attended the University never saw each other again. of North Dakota with an eye to getting his bachelor’s degree to get a commissioned spot in the Air Force. While there, he joined the university’s Aero Club and learned to fly. By the time Peterson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in After completing basic to training at FortbutBragg, industrial arts, “I washis qualified fly airplanes, unqualified North was selected for theCarolina, Air Force,”Dever he said. “I had to getfor the Officer brainwashing and Candidate School FortofSill, Oklahoma. In September a much more seriousatlevel training.” 1967 ― while Vietnam was in ― he And that he got. “Pilot trainingfull wastilt called thewas year of 53 commissioned a second lieutenant. weeks,” Petersonassaid. From early June 1966 to late June 1967, “My paycheck as an officer was a grand total of he trained on the T-41 the how T-37 at Williams Air more Force Base $300,” Dever said. “Iand asked I could make in Arizona, with advanced training on the T-38, a twin-engine, money.” two-seater, supersonic plane thatschool, goes faster than the The answer, he wastrainer told, (a was flight so he speed ofto sound). decided go. He had to wait his turn and spent the completed basic advanced training, timeOnce as ahe platoon leader inand a searchlights batteryPeterson for a couple months before hetraining was offschool to Mineral Wells, went toofT-37 instructor pilot at Perrin Air Texas, and in flight school. Force Base Texas, followed by four years of teaching At this point,pilot Dever married Carla Taylor in April undergraduate training at Vance AFB in Oklahoma. 1968 It buildup was twoofdays afterand thepilots assassination It in wasVirginia. during the Vietnam were sorely of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Riots were needed. The Air Force would accept just about anyone who everywhere when Dever and his new wife spent their could safely get in and out of a plane, Peterson said. “There honeymoon driving to Texas for his training. They were a couple were really questionable,” couldn’t drivethat at night due to a curfew. he said, and there were a couple who died in Vietnam due to pilot error. By the time histraining turn came to serve in Vietnam, Peterson was Helicopter Dever on the OH-23 light on observation ready. Hetrained had already received training his choice of plane, helicopter at Fort in Mineral Wells,asthen he the C-130 cargo andWolters troop carrier, also known “Hercules.” learned the combat HueyAir helicopter at Fortof China Basedtoinfly Ching Chuan Kang Base, a Republic Rucker, Alabama, even though wasn’t he Air Force Base in Taiwan, Petersonthat served withwhat the 39th would fly in Vietnam. Tactical Airliftexactly Squadron, 317th Airlift wherever And that’s where heTactical went af after ter heWing graduated he was needed. He would deploy for two weeks at a time, U.S. AIR FORCE U.S. ARMY Part 1 from flight training in 1969 ― straight to Vietnam, where he was stationed in the I Corps, the northernmost hauling from troops and equipment to region ofeverything South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam at the Vietnamese Demilitarized North Vietnamese prisonersZone. and even deceased American Dever—was as platoon leader for an troops oneassigned of the hardest of his assignments andAir something Cavalry troop: F Troop, 8th Cavalry. His job was to fly he doesn’t like to talk about. the “scout as theySoutheast called it,Asia or Loach, for light Duringbird,” his 13-month deployment in observation helicopter (OH-6 Cayuse). It was of the 1972-73, Peterson took some hits in his plane whenone he dropped most dangerous assignments in Vietnam. His job was to at various or servedwhere on fighting missions. flytroops out low to the landing groundzones and observe the enemy Thebe. tracers he they saw coming duringanight flying may Once found at thehim enemy, couple of were Cobras particularly but he have time to be scared, would come frightening, in to take care ofdidn’t things. he said.the bait,” he said. “I’m The“Itsmall might fire, and crew didn’thelicopter do any good to be take frightened,” heasaid. “You do member would what you’ve gotthrow to do.”a smoke bomb to mark the location of the enemy.would Thengothey fired the Cobras Peterson on to serveuntil 14 more years in arrived the Air and they could get away. Force, including four years at Randolph AFB in San Antonio, “Sometimes don’t seeinstructor” anything.for You’re just cutting where he was anyou “instructor’s the T-37; holes in the sky,” he said. three more years there in a non-flying job as a field training detachment commander; and his remaining seven years at Pope Shot down AFB in North Carolina, he retired 1987.the Chu He was in Vietnam forfrom fivewhich months flyinginover Duringdoing that time, he service took himmissions throughout thethe Lai region search-and-destroy over mountains. On part one of mission, themission crew chief yelled, medical “I got world. He was the rescue of American one running!” As theinbird around, took students in Grenada 1983.turned “It feltback good,” he said.it“One small arms fire and lost engine. They were trying to woman said, ‘I thank youan with my life.’” get the to abetter smallmemories clearingofbut a treeAllontold, the way It’s copter one of the hishit service. down. Peterson served 21 years with the Air Force, amassing some 574 Youngblood Road, Waco, Texas, 76706 • 254.662.5571 • JRoof.com Ben Dever, of Hewitt, retired as a lieutenant colonel after 22ofyears of Harv Peterson service21 in the U.S. Lorena served Army. years in the Air Force, which included in Photo by time Mary Drennon Vietnam. “We just crashed in enemy Dever said. Phototerritory,” by Mary Drennon The crew chief and observer both were okay, but 7,000 flight Dever had hours. compression fractures in his back. Two Cobras shooting at thecompany, enemy and a He went on tostarted work for a cargo plane but didn’t Huey and flying. pickedFor them up.three “Weyears, werehenot on the care forcame the night about worked as a ground fiverefresher minutes,” he said. pilot andmore flight than engineer trainer, but he got a call from takencommander to an aid station, an evacuation anHe old was squadron inviting then him totocome to Waco to hospital in Vietnam. From there, he went to a hospital fly with what originally was Chrysler Technologies Airbornein in Japan, then to Walter Reed Army Medical Center Systems; the company changed ownership several times until D.C., effectively ffectively ending his tour. tour. he After retiredabout in 2006two (today it’s known as stabilized L3Harris). and sent months he was WhileMeade, serving in Athens, Greece, Peterson hisafter future to Fort Maryland, for light duty. met Right he outworked of theashospital, promoted to and captain. wife,got who a civilianhe forwas the Air Force. He Dever about a year at Fort Meade, becoming Georgiaspent Jenkins married in April 1990 and have been company of the Army garrison before he together 27commander years. left.Peterson still lives with the memories of Vietnam. “I’m He then went to an advanced training course at Fort okay Oklahoma, when I’m notwhere talkinghe about it,” he butback whentohe does, Sill, geared upsaid, to go “it all starts coming back,” and it can be rough going. Vietnam. “I was very fortunate. Some of my good buddies didn’t Next week: Dever serves again in Vietnam and goes make it back.” directly to Germany. His military service continues with a “Veterans’ Voices,” featuring stories about variety of assignments, including commanding troops. Central Texas veterans, publishes every Sunday. “V erans’aVoices,” featuring stories about Central To“Vet suggest story about a Central Texas veteran, Texas veterans, publishes every Sunday. To suggest please a story email about voicesofvalor@wacotrib.com. a Central Texas veteran, please email voicesofvalor@wacotrib.com. is “Veterans’ Voices” is proudly “Veterans’ sponsoredVoices” by proudly sponsored by Johnson Roofing. Johnson Roofing. At Johnson Roofing, we believe in America and proudly stand behind the men and women of our armed forces.