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Veterans’ Voices Honoring our men and women in uniform By MARY DRENNON I B By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald Special to the Tribune-Herald f the name Kevin75, Wilson sounds familiar, it should. en Dever, of Hewitt, never intended to Wilson, a former Bellmead councilman, served make a career out of the military. But two severaltours yearstoon the citytwo council as a term Vietnam, toursastowell Germany, andas mayor.some 22 years later, he retired from the U.S. Butas what you may colonel not know that Wilson, 55, was Army a lieutenant in is November 1988. also a soldier with the U.S. Army for nearly five Dever was born in Washington, D.C., and raisedyears. in not allVirginia that surprising WilsonManassas ended up High in the theIt’s northern area. Hethat attended military. father,and a master sergeant, School inHis Virginia graduated when served he was21 18.years and was inwas bothonthe andhe Vietnam Wilson College hisKorean mind and enrolledwars. in the was born in Washington state, but grew up traveling University of Richmond but quit after three semesters.the country as military “brats” “I ran out of money and I do. ran out of grades,” he said. It was his father’s suggestion that consider At the time, school didn’t feel like theheright place.the So military after graduated from Copperas Dever went to Wilson work for the telephone company. Cove High School. Graduating in 1983, there were tough He was 21 years old when he received a draft notice economic the ’80s, for until Wilson, the from Uncletimes Sam.during He decided not and to wait he was military seemed like a good option to earn some money. drafted and joined the U.S. Army in November 1966 with a buddy on the “buddy plan,” Dever said. The 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 Enrolling at Fort Hood Wilson servedThey his assigned as platoon leadersinof1987, different platoons. basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, followed by never saw each other again. advanced training in supply at Fort Lee, Virginia. It was his job to order and issue supplies and control inventory. “It was actually pretty fun,” Wilson said. “You make a After lot of completing friends. Everyone needs supplies.” his basic training at Fort Bragg, Stationed right back at Fort Hood with the 13th North Carolina, Dever was selected for Officer Combat Support would be his only duty Candidate SchoolCommand, at Fort Sill,itOklahoma. In September station while he served in the military. It was just 1967 ― while Vietnam was in full tilt ― he was around the timeasofa second Desert Shield, and Wilson was commissioned lieutenant. deployed with hisasunit. They were at different “My paycheck an officer was aattached grand total of times toDever various units, including Big make Red One. $300,” said. “I asked how Ithe could moreHe was with the chemical supply company that went to money.” Saudi Operation Desertso Shield. The Arabia answer,for he the wasstart told,ofwas flight school, he They were stationed at the King Khalid Military City decided to go. He had to wait his turn and spent the (KKMC), waitingleader for orders to move. battery for a time as a platoon in a searchlights When Air Force bombing Iraq, they couple ofthe months beforestarted he was off to Mineral Wells, movedand up to the school. border of Iraq from KKMC to prepare Texas, flight forAtOperation For the next few this point,Desert DeverStorm. married Carla Taylor in days, April it wasinanVirginia. air war,Itbut then needed “boots on the 1968 was twothey days after the assassination ground,” which included Wilson. of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Riots were It was tough going, heand said.hisBetween sandstorms everywhere when Dever new wife spent theirand the flies ― which he said were everywhere it was an honeymoon driving to Texas for his training.― They uncomfortable It would be hot during the day couldn’t drive atjourney. night due to a curfew. and get cold enough for frost during the night. Wilson carried an M-16 rifle, “but we were not Helicopter training allowed to even load in light the gun unless we were Dever trained on theammo OH-23 observation fired upon,” he said. Thereinwould be Wells, scary moments, helicopter at Fort Wolters Mineral then he but he never to fire hishelicopter gun. learned to fly did the have combat Huey at Fort He saw the action of though the scudthat missiles Rucker, Alabama, even wasn’twhen whathe hehad to return to a city to get supplies and the Iraqis were would fly in Vietnam. firing the city. Hehe went outside to graduated watch the Andthem that’sinto exactly where went after he U.S. ARMY U.S. ARMY Part 1 Ben Dever, of Hewitt, retired as a lieutenant colonel after 22 years of service in the U.S. Kevin Wilson, of Army. Bellmead, served in Photo by Mary Drennon Iraq as part of his five years in the Army from flight training in 1969 ― straight to Vietnam, “We just crashed in enemy territory,” Dever said. Photowere by Mary Drennon where he was stationed in the I Corps, the northernmost The crew chief and observer both okay, but region of South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam at the Dever had compression fractures in his back. theTwo service, butstarted due to shooting the war, he hadenemy an involuntary Vietnamese Demilitarized Cobras at the and a Patriot missiles blast downZone. the scud missiles but was extension his picked time. He wasup. extended through thethe Deverreprimanded was assignedand as platoon leaderinside. for an Air Huey cameofand them “We were not on quickly told to come end of Desert Storm and came back to Fort Hood, Cavalry troop: F Troop, 8th Cavalry. His job was to fly ground more than five minutes,” he said. where he was honorably asto a sergeant the “scout bird,” as they called it, or Loach, for light He was taken to an aiddischarged station, then an evacuation Frightening situation promotable to an E-6.From there, he went to a hospital observation (OH-6 Cayuse). It was one through of the hospital in Vietnam. One of hishelicopter scariest times was traveling at night wouldReed return to Iraq after he got in most dangerous in Vietnam. His job in Interestingly, Japan, then tohe Walter Army Medical Center a minefield. Theassignments first thing they did was shoot as was manyto out of effectively the serviceending as a contractor fly out as low to the ground observe the enemy D.C., his tour. with Brown & Root. mines they could, thenand it was followwhere the leader by in supplies, he was for about five may be. on Once enemy, coupletoofavoid Cobras After about two months hethere was stabilized and sent staying the they samefound track the as the lead avehicle the Working months during Operation Calm. would in to takehit care of things. to Fort Meade, Maryland,Desert for light duty. Right after mines.come “If they don’t a mine, then maybe you won’t,” got onhewith post office. A heWilson got outeventually of the hospital, wasthe promoted to captain. he“I’m said.the bait,” he said. father two,about he also served on the boardbecoming of Rapport The small might takeItfire, a crew Dever of spent a year at Fort Meade, Travel washelicopter slow, slow, he said. tookand them all night, including a of stint president. member throw smoke bomb mark the They location Academy, company commander theasArmy garrison before he and whenwould they got out,a everyone wasto exhausted. There are many more interesting stories Wilson of thetoenemy. Then they fired until the Cobras arrived went sleep immediately without setting up camp or and left. could tell –went suchtoasan theadvanced time a French soldier landed a they getunit. away. He then training course at Fort evencould a guard in their camp, a meal. They “Sometimes you don’t anything.some You’re justdunes cutting helicopter Sill, Oklahoma, where helooking geared for up to go back to fed The next morning, theysee discovered sand him, and Wilson exchanged money with him. He still holes in thetanks sky,”dug he said. with Iraqi in. One guy wanted some souvenirs Vietnam. and went to open one of the tanks and couldn’t open it. He has the French money today. Next an week: Dever serves again intrade Vietnam goes “It’s experience I wouldn’t for and anything,” Shot someone down was inside. Unknowingly, they had slept realized directly said.to Germany. His military service continues with a He was Vietnam fivethe months overin. the Chu he about 100 in yards from for where tanksflying were dug variety of assignments, including commanding troops. LaiTurns region doing search-and-destroy missions over the out, the Iraqis were there to surrender. “They “Veterans’ Voices,” featuring stories about Central mountains. onetomission, the crew chief yelled, “I got really didn’tOn want fight,” Wilson said. “They were Texas veterans, publishes everystories Sunday. To suggest “Veterans’ Voices,” featuring about Central one running!” As the turned around, it tookwell aTexas hungry and tired,” he bird added, and back hadn’t been treated storyveterans, about a Central Texas veteran, please email publishes every Sunday. To suggest small arms fire and lost an engine. They were trying to by Saddam Hussein. voicesofvalor@wacotrib.com. “Veterans’ Voices” is a story about a Central Texas veteran, please email sponsored by Johnson“Veterans’ Roofing. Voices” is getWilson the copter small clearing butsupposed hit a treetoonget theout way was to in aIraq when he was of proudly voicesofvalor@wacotrib.com. down. proudly sponsored by Johnson Roofing. 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.

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