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Veterans’ Voices Ve Honoring our men and women in uniform By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald I B By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald en Dever, 75, of Hewitt, never intended to had make the time of my life,” said resident a career out of theHewitt military. But Ron two Eaton, 64, to referring to his Navy service. “It was one tours Vietnam, two tours to Germany, andof the best things I everlater, did forheme.” some 22 years retired from the U.S. Eaton, native of Lancaster, California, spent 20 years in Army as aa lieutenant colonel in November 1988. was born in D.C., and raised infrom theDever service. Moving to Washington, Norwalk, California, he graduated the Virginia He attended Manassas High highnorthern school and enteredarea. the Navy in September 1975 through School in entry Virginia and graduated when he was 18. a delayed program. College onanhisairman mindapprentice, and he enrolled thestation Assignedwas to be his firstinduty University of Richmond but quit after three semesters. was Point Mugu in California and San Nicolas Island off the “I ran out of money and I ran out of grades,” he said. California coast. He worked at anlike air terminal traffic, At the time, school didn’t feel the rightdirecting place. So movingwent bagsto and whatever elsetelephone was needed. Dever work for the company. “After year,when I realized I hadn’t agone anywhere,” He wasmy 21 second years old he received draft notice he said. He was close to not his home to until commute on from Uncle Sam. Heenough decided to wait he was weekends. decided re-enlist forinfour more years in 1977. drafted andHe joined thetoU.S. Army November 1966 with a buddy on sent the “buddy plan,”inDever said. Thea naval He was promptly to Cubi Point the Philippines, buddy plan designed to allow a person joining the shipyard andisairbase. service to serve their time with their buddy. Things 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. The job there was to support incoming aircraft. As an air crewman, Eaton flew as a passenger out to the fleet. When they got about 200 to 300 miles offshore, Eaton and the others would provide support through mail, cargo and passenger runs. After completing basicSabreliner, training ata VIP-type Fort Bragg, He also got to fly inhisa T-39 of plane North Carolina, Dever was selected for Officer for E-6s and above. The highest-ranking officer he helped Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In September support a four-star admiral charge 1967 ―was while Vietnam was ininfull tilt of ―the heWestern was Pacific. commissioned as a second lieutenant. “I liked it. I hadas a good time there,” said.total of “My paycheck an officer was a he grand In 1980, Eaton re-enlisted another fourmake years.more He was $300,” Dever said. “I askedfor how I could assigned to VP-30, a patrol squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. money.” answer, he was told, flight school, he AsThe an air crewman, he was anwas aft observer during so training decided He had to wait his turn and spent exercisestoforgo. pilots. He found it extremely boring, hethe said. At time as a platoon leader in a searchlights batteryand forleft a that point, he decided he didn’t want to fly anymore couple of months before he was off to Mineral Wells, for Mayport, Florida, where the USS Forrestal became his Texas, and flight school. new At home. this point, Dever married Carla Taylor in April AsinanVirginia. electricianItby trade, for 1968 was twoEaton days was aftera supervisor the assassination the floor, ensuring all engines were ready for pilots. He then of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Riots were moved out ofwhen the jetDever shop and supervisor for their everywhere andbecame his new wife spent 62-ECHO generator units. 1982 he wasThey assigned to honeymoon drivingcontrol to Texas forInhis training. couldn’t at Willow night due to aincurfew. Naval Airdrive Station Grove Pennsylvania to maintain the C-1A plane that came off the aircraft carrier. Helicopter training Dever trained on the OH-23 light observation helicopter Fort re-enlisted Wolters inyet Mineral Wells, then he he had In 1985,atEaton again. By this time, learned to fly the combat Huey helicopter at Fort 10 years in. “That’s when I knew I was staying (in the Navy).” Rucker, Alabama, thatHe wasn’t he Up to this point, he even hadn’tthough been sure. was anwhat E-6 aviation would fly in Vietnam. electrician 1stexactly class. where he went af And that’s after ter he graduated In 1985, he went to Memphis, Tennessee, to take a long, “ Ben Dever, of Hewitt, retired as a lieutenant colonel Ron Eaton, of Hewitt, after 22 years was an air crewman of service in the U.S. and later provided Army. electronics support U.S. NAVY U.S. ARMY Part 1 Continued service from flight training in 1969 ― straight to Vietnam, where he was stationed in the I Corps, the northernmost region of South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam at the advanced series course in electronics. Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone. He spent eight months inDever schoolwas before resuming duties.leader He served at locations assigned ashis platoon for an Air that included Fallon, Nevada, and NAS Whidbey Island Cavalry troop: F Troop, 8th Cavalry. His job was toinfly Puget Sound. the “scout bird,” as they called it, or Loach, for light From 1988helicopter to 1990, he(OH-6 joinedCayuse). the VAQ-132 Scorpions. observation It was one of the most dangerous assignments Vietnam. His In 1990, he was deployed on theinUSS Saratoga to job the was to fly out low to the groundofand observe where the enemy Mediterranean in support Operation Desert Storm. Working may be.EA-6B OnceProwler, they found the enemy, a couple of Cobras on the he went into the Red Sea after passing would in toCanal. take care of things. throughcome the Suez He would see planes take off fully “I’m the bait,” he said. loaded with bombs come might back completely empty. The small helicopter take fire, and a crew The Saratoga went toathe Indian Ocean relieve USS member would throw smoke bomb totomark thethe location Kennedy and didn’t come home until March 1991 to Mayport, of the enemy. Then they fired until the Cobras arrived and Florida. He get thenaway. returned to Whidbey Island. they could That was theyou longest Eaton been at You’re sea. During time, “Sometimes don’t seehad anything. just that cutting holes in the12sky,” he worked hoursheonsaid. with 12 hours off, seven days a week. His work was so exemplary, he earned Scorpion (Sailor) of the Shot down Year in 1990. He was Vietnam for his fivetour months flying over the In 1992,inEaton finished with the Scorpions andChu reLai region doing search-and-destroy missions over the enlisted for a final four years. He served his remaining time back mountains. On one mission, the crew chief yelled, “I got at Point Mugu. As In June 1995,turned he retired asaround, an E-6 petty officer 1st one running!” the bird back it took class. arms In addition to the of the Yearwere award, he received small fire and lostScorpion an engine. They trying to a Navy Commendation Medal for hisbut service get the copter to a small clearing hit a on treetheonSaratoga the way down. during Operation Desert Storm, a Navy Achievement Medal and an Operation Desert Storm Medal. 574 Youngblood Road, Waco, Texas, 76706 • 254.662.5571 • JRoof.com Mary Drennon during Photo his 20byyears in the U.S. Navy. “We just crashed in enemy territory,” Dever said. Photo both by Mary Drennon The crew chief and observer were okay, but Dever had compression fractures in his After he left the service, Eaton continuedback. with his Two Cobras started shooting at the enemy and a electronics working at several companies, Huey came career, and picked them up. “We were notusually on theon anything electronic in airplanes. In 1993, he took a job with ground more than five minutes,” he said. wascontractor taken to an aidback station, then to an evacuation a He private to go to Iraq, installing vibration hospital in Vietnam. there, he went to asurveillance hospital monitoring equipment.From He also worked on a big inballoon Japan,with thena to Walter Army Medical Center in video feed Reed that sends information for analysis. D.C., effectively ffectively ending his tour. tour. The balloon up toheabout feet. Itand wassent his job After aboutwould two float months was 3,000 stabilized to maintain the electronics. to Fort Meade, Maryland, for light duty. Right after he got of the took hospital, was to captain. He out eventually a job he with L-3promoted Communications (now Dever spent about a year at Fort Meade, becoming L3Harris), moving to Hewitt in 2010. He retired in 2015. company commander of the Army garrison before he left.Eaton, a lifetime member of VFW Post 6008, is married toHe Kristen been married nine course years. Between then Burr. went They’ve to an advanced training at Fort the two, they havewhere sevenhe children, grandchildren Sill, Oklahoma, gearedfour up to go back to and Vietnam. three dogs. Today, Eaton still talks with the friends he made in the Next week: Dever serves again in Vietnam and goes service.to“IGermany. had the time my life,” he said. “It waswith my a directly His of military service continues variety of assignments, commanding troops. privilege and honor to including serve my country.” Voices,” featuring featuring stories “V“Veterans’ “Vet erans’ Voices,” storiesabout aboutCentral Central Texasveterans, veterans, publishes publishes every ToTo suggest Texas everySunday. Sunday. suggest aastory Texasveteran, veteran,please pleaseemail email storyabout about aa Central Central Texas voicesofvalor@wacotrib.com. “Veterans’ Voices” is voicesofvalor@wacotrib.com. “Veterans’ proudly sponsored by Johnson Roofing.Voices” is proudly sponsored by Johnson Roofing. At Johnson Roofing, we believe in America and proudly stand behind the men and women of our armed forces.

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