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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 October 2018. B J By MARY DRENNON en Dever, 75, of Hewitt, never intended to Special theofTribune-Herald make a career to out the military. But two tours to Vietnam, Germany, im Murphy is proud of histwo timetours in thetoU.S. Air Force.and some 22 years later, he retired from thea U.S. “I spent 27 years serving my country, and I got great Army as lieutenant in said November deala of satisfactioncolonel out of it,” Murphy, 1988. 77, a Waco Dever was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in native and Baylor graduate. the northern Virginia area. He attended Manassas High If he sounds like poster,when he didheseven School in Virginiaa recruitment and graduated wasyears 18. of that with thewas Air Force. that’sand nothe whyenrolled he touts in it. To College on hisBut mind thehim, the University ofisRichmond but quit threepeople semesters. U.S. Air Force the best possible outfitafter for young to find “I ran out money and I ran out of grades,” he said. adventure andof excitement. At He thedidn’t time,always school feel the right feeldidn’t that way. A like University Highplace. School So Dever went to work for the telephone company. graduate, hadold onlywhen been out the stateaonce: the He wasMurphy 21 years he of received draftasnotice winnerUncle of a soap boxHe derby, he wentnot to to thewait nationals Akron, from Sam. decided untilinhe was Ohio. “Itand wasjoined kind of the special to Army me backinatNovember that time,” Murphy drafted U.S. 1966 with said. a buddy on the “buddy plan,” Dever said. The buddy is my designed to allow the He “I feltplan it was civic duty,” he said aofperson joining joining the Air Force. service timewith with buddy. intendedtotoserve do his their four years thetheir service and getThings out. didn’t quite work out that way, as both men were assigned as platoon leaders of different fferent platoons. They never saw each other again. Ben Dever, of Waco native Hewitt,and retired as a Baylor lieutenant graduate Jim colonel Murphyafter spent 2227 years of years inservice the AirinForce, the U.S. workingArmy. in a variety of areas, Photo including at the by Mary Drennon Murphy enrolled in Baylor University and entered the ROTC Pentagon. program, earning a four-year degree and a commission as a second from flight training in 1969 ― straight to Vietnam, “We just crashed in enemy territory,” Dever said. lieutenant in the Air Force. “That was a very special day in my Photo both by Mary Drennon After completing his basic training at Fort Bragg, where he was stationed in the I Corps, the northernmost The crew chief and observer were okay, but life, oneCarolina, of the proudest days,” said. Hisfor onlyOfficer exposure to the North Dever washeselected region of South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam at the Dever had compression fractures in his back. took care of that,” he said. military wasSchool the JohnatConnally Air Oklahoma. Force Base. “IInthought it (the Vietnamese was called AirDemilitarized Defense Radar, but there was no air defense, so they Candidate Fort Sill, September Zone. Two Cobras started shooting at the enemy and a He came workedand at Wright-Patterson AFB for awere time, not where Air Force) was a Vietnam first-class organization, to enlist and advised air trafficasand helped them recover if they 1967 ― while was in full so tiltI decided ― he was Deverpilots wason assigned platoon leader for an Air ran low Huey picked them up. “We onhis the career took off. From there he was transferred to the Pentagon, commissioned second lieutenant. serve my country as thata way,” he said. He had no desire to fly. on fuel or needed assistance. “It was a very rewarding job because we Cavalry troop: F Troop, 8th Cavalry. His job was to fly ground more than five minutes,” he said. “My paycheck an officer grand totalofficer, of and oversaw worldwide security andthen policytoreview. the or Loach, light Hehewas taken to an aid station, an evacuation Instead, Murphy as wanted to be a was publicainformation were“scout helpingbird,” airmenasgetthey backcalled to theirit,base,” Murphyfor said. He spent $300,” said. asked couldschool. makeHe more helicopter (OH-6 Cayuse). It was one of the hospital in stayed Vietnam. there, he went a hospital Murphy at theFrom Pentagon for four years to before returning but for aDever time, the Air “I Force sent how him toI radar went to observation about 10 months on the island. money.” most dangerous assignments in Vietnam. Histojob was toand intoJapan, Reed Army Medical Center Dayton,then Ohio,totoWalter build exhibits that traveled to state and in Vietnam in 1968 to a small radar site in the southernmost tip of By this time, Murphy was a captain. He returned the States The answer, he was told, was flight school, so he fly out low to the ground and observe where the enemy D.C., fffairs. ectively ending his tour. tour. in 1992, so he decided to countyeffectively His unit was deactivated the country. He served as an weapons controller in thethe Mekong may cross-trained intothey public information. He attended the of Department decided to go. He had to air wait his turn and spent be. Once found the enemy, a couple Cobras After about two months he was stabilized and sent was a full colonel who earned, among medals, Deltaas region in the small cityinofaCà Mau. of Defense Information time a platoon leader searchlights battery for a would come in to takeSchool care in ofIndianapolis things. before going to toretire. FortHe Meade, Maryland, forhad light duty. Rightother after a Bronze service inhe Vietnam. couple of months he was off to Mineral Wells, Coming underbefore attack Langley Air bait,” Force Base to begin his new career. He then transferred he “I’m the he said. got outStar of for thehis hospital, was promoted to captain. Texas, andfirst flight school. Murphy didabout severala jobs he leftMeade, the Air Force, including smallNews, helicopter might take fire, and crew everything Dever spent yearafter at Fort becoming For the few weeks, all was quiet. In fact, upon his arrival toThe Newport in Hampton, Virginia, where he ahandled At this point, Dever married CarlatheTaylor in April member would throw smoke bomb to mark the location company of thefor Army garrisonCancer before he serving as commander a marketing director the American Society. there, he was told he was “lucky” because Viet Cong had left from media inquiries and anews reports to events and more. 1968 in Virginia. It was two days after the assassination of the enemy. Then they fired until the Cobras arrived and left. He also drove a school bus, which he remembers with fondness, them was Luther just before the Tet “All hell broke Murphy took a leave of absence to attend school and earn his of thealone. Rev.That Martin King Jr. Offensive. Riots were they could getataway. He then to Disney an advanced training course at Fort with awent stint at World. He eventually returned to loose,” he said.when Their Dever site cameand under and mortar master’s degree the American University in Washington, D.C., with along everywhere hisheavy new rocket wife spent their “Sometimes you don’t see anything. You’re just cutting Sill, Oklahoma, where he geared up to go back to Waco. attacks — more than half a dozen — including the last one, which an emphasis on print journalism. That was before the draft ended. honeymoon driving to Texas for his training. They holes in the sky,” he said. Vietnam. “My life has come full circle,” said the father of two and destroyed drive the radar equipment. Fortunately, Once it ended, there was a need for more recruiters. “Much to my couldn’t at night due to a curfew.no one was injured. Next week: again in Vietnam goes grandfather of Dever nine. “Iserves had such an enjoyable andand rewarding was put into volunteer recruiting,” he said. Positioned with the Army, helicopter gunships flew the perimeter chagrin, ShotI down directly Germany. servicetocontinues He wasout, in Vietnam for five months flying over Chu career. Ittowas the best His thingmilitary that happened me.” with a Turned Murphy loved the job. A tractor-trailer wasthe converted atHelicopter night, and in thetraining morning, the fighter jets came and took over. variety of assignments, including commanding troops. Dever trained the OH-23 observation Lai search-and-destroy missions overupthe intoregion a rollingdoing classroom. “I don’t have any regrets. I ended spending After it was all over,ona major told thelight tactical control squadron helicopter at Fort Wolters in Mineral Wells, then he mountains. On one mission, the crew chief yelled, “I got “Veterans’ stories about Central “V “Vet erans’ Voices,” Voices,”featuring featuring stories about Central seven years doing it. I enjoyed it,” he said. some chilling which Murphy he will take to his grave. learned to flywords, the combat Hueysaid helicopter at Fort one running!” As the bird turned back around, it took Texas veterans, publishes every Sunday. To suggest Texas veterans, publishes every Sunday. To suggest After this assignment, Murphy’s name came up in a search for Air “He said,Alabama, ‘Gentlemen,even you are very damn lucky to what be alive, Rucker, though that wasn’t hebecause small arms fire and lost an engine. They were trying to a story about a Central Texas veteran, please email a story about a Central Texas veteran, pleaseVoices” email is Defense Radar. He sent clearing to a site inbut the DMZ (demilitarized zone) email@example.com. they hadfly700 we had 150 total U.S.,’” Murphy said. would infighters; Vietnam. get the copter to awas small hit a tree on the way “Veterans’ And that’s exactlytowhere heoffwent after af terofheNha graduated firstname.lastname@example.org. “Veterans’ Voices” is proudly in South Korea. He said it was quiet for the most part, except for the proudly He was transferred an island the coast Trang, a down. sponsored by Johnson Rooﬁng. sponsored by Johnson Roofing. occasional infiltration of a North Korean, “but the South Koreans major improvement. They weren’t bothered by the Viet Cong. It U.S. AIR FORCE U.S. ARMY Part 1 574 Youngblood Road, Waco, Texas, 76706 • 254.662.5571 • JRoof.com At Johnson Rooﬁng, we believe in America and proudly stand behind the men and women of our armed forces.