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Veterans’ Voices Ve Honoring our men and women in uniform By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald L B By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald en grandfather Dever, 75,before of Hewitt, neverFrazier intended to II, ike his him, Joseph Radcliffe make a career out of the military. But two 36, served in the U.S. Army, racking up three tours to Iraq tours Vietnam, twoservice. tours to Germany, and during his to nine years in the some 22 years later, he retired from the U.S. Born raised in colonel Waco, Radcliffe graduated from La Army as and a lieutenant in November 1988. Vega High School in 2003 and immediately went into the Dever was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Army after joining viaarea. the delayed entry program. the northern Virginia He attended ManassasRadcliffe High School and graduated he wasin18. decidedinheVirginia wasn’t ready for college,when and service the Collegewould was on mind andschooling. he enrolled in the military helphispay for his University Richmond but quit semesters. Radcliffeofentered the service onafter June three 9, 2003, in “I ran out of money and I ran out of grades,” he said. Fort Knox, Kentucky. After the first two weeks as a So At the time, school didn’t feel like the right place. “hometown recruit” he was stationed at the Dever went to work in forWaco, the telephone company. U.S. Baumholder, Germany. One month He Army was 21Garrison years old when he received a draft notice later,Uncle he wasSam. deployed to Iraq. not He arrived on from He decided to waitin-country until he was drafted joined the U.S. U.S.troops Army caught in November Dec. 17,and 2003, the day Saddam1966 Hussein. withServing a buddy onthe the1st “buddy plan,” Dever 2nd said.Brigade The with Armored Division, buddy plan is designed to allow a person joining Reconnaissance Troop, he was in the “green zone,” the which service to serve their time with their buddy. Things hosts foreign embassies and government buildings and didn’t quite work out that way, as both men were is a regular target of rocket attacks. assigned as platoon leaders of different fferent platoons. They never saw each other again. Ben Dever, of Hewitt, retired as a colonel Joseph lieutenant Frazier Radcliffe, after 22 years of Waco, served three of the U.S. tours ofservice duty in in Iraq. Army. The last five years he U.S. ARMY ARMY Part 1 U.S. Radcliffe served briefly as a cavalry scout in downtown After completing basic training Fort Bragg, Baghdad, but he hadhis other jobs, as well,atincluding security North Carolina, was selected Officer and escorting forDever high-profile targets, for foreign diplomats and Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In September upper brass. 1967 ― while Vietnam was in full tilt ― he was His third jobaswas cordonlieutenant. and search, where soldiers commissioned a second cordon off an area and search and weapons. “My paycheck as an officer for wasinsurgents a grand total of That meant to door, kicking them $300,” Devergoing said.door “I asked howsometimes I could make more money.” in and entering with weapons drawn. His unit caught three he was told,that wasthe flight school, ofThe the answer, top 10 “deck cards” soldiers usedso tohe rank decided to go. He had to wait his turn and spent the important offenders. timeUntil as a July platoon leader in a searchlights for that a 9, 2004, he lived with his unit battery in a palace couple of months before he was off to Mineral Wells, once belonged to school. a mistress of Saddam. He took things in Texas, and flight stride at the time. At this point, Dever married Carla Taylor in April “Iin was too young to know any different,” Radcliffe 1968 Virginia. It was two days after the assassination ofsaid. the “I Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Riots thought I was the young punk kid were that was Tefloneverywhere and his newknow wifeany spent their coated, so towhen speak,Dever and didn’t really better.” honeymoon driving to Texas for his training. They Radcliffe went back to Germany, where he spent a year couldn’t drive at night due to a curfew. in training with other military members. He was deployed a Helicopter second time to training Iraq on Nov. 13, 2005. Serving with the Central it was a frustrating trip. The Dever Command trained onReserve, the OH-23 light observation helicopter Wolters Mineral Wells, thenforheeight soldiers satatinFort Kuwait on theinborder south of Iraq learned to fly the combat helicopter at Fort and a half months, waitingHuey to move. If anything happened in Rucker, eventhey though wasn’t he out. that partAlabama, of the world, wouldthat be the oneswhat to push would fly in Vietnam. Eventually, they moved to the Baghdad airport where And that’s exactly where he went af after ter he graduated they did escorts and provided security for explosive from flight training in 1969 ― straight to Vietnam, where he was stationed in the I Corps, the northernmost ordnance disposal specialists. After sitting those months, region of South Vietnam, bordering Northall Vietnam at the Vietnamese Demilitarized they saw plenty of action. Zone. Dever was assigned asGermany platoon leader an Air Radcliffe returned to briefly for before he received Cavalry troop: F Troop, 8th Cavalry. His job a change in station to Fort Hood in Killeen. was to fly the “scout bird,” as they called it, or Loach, for light “I figured it was time because I was 6,000 miles observation helicopter (OH-6 Cayuse). It was oneaway of the fromdangerous home in Germany,” he said. most assignments in Vietnam. His job was to Justlow before he ground left Germany, he switched specialties to fly out to the and observe where the enemy may be. supplies. Once they thetoenemy, a couple Cobras armor Hefound learned run an arms roomofwhere the would come to take carethat of things. weapons areinkept. He did for his remaining five years. “I’m bait,”ahe said. He the deployed third time to Iraq on June 5, 2008. By The small helicopter might take fire, and a crew this time, he had been diagnosed with to post-traumatic stress member would throw a smoke bomb mark the location disorder but returned to Iraq anyway. It was the worst of the enemy. Then they fired until the Cobras arrivedofand the could three trips. He lost a good buddy – he celebrates his they get away. “Sometimes youmarking don’t see You’re–just own birthday by his anything. buddy’s birthday andcutting his holes in started the sky,” he said. PTSD kicking in. Serving with the 1st Cavalry, Radcliffe oversaw Shot down $3 of guns and sensitive items. While he was Hemillion was inworth Vietnam for five months flying over the Chu there, the officer in charge got sick and was sent back to the Lai region doing search-and-destroy missions over the States. Radcliffe took over. the crew chief yelled, “I got mountains. On one mission, “I didn’t lose single itemturned in the back entire around, deployment,” he said. one running!” Asa the bird it took smallHowever, arms fire andalost an engine. werepeople tryingintothat it was painful trip. “WeThey lost more get the copter to than a small clearing hit a treeheon the way one deployment the other twobut combined,” added. down. For three months, they stayed in tents on an Iraqi 574 Youngblood Road, Waco, Texas, 76706 • 254.662.5571 • JRoof.com Photoinbyarmor Mary Drennon specialized supplies. “We just crashed in enemy territory,” Dever said. Photo by Mary Drennon The crew chief and observer both were okay, but militaryhad basecompression until the Airfractures Force helped build their forward Dever in his back. Two Cobras operating base. started shooting at the enemy and a Huey came andspot, picked up.regularly “We were notaton It was a hot withthem rockets fired thethe base. ground more than five minutes,” he said. Once, a rocket hit the laundry, striking the diesel holding He was taken to an aid station, then to an evacuation tank, which caught onFrom fire. Radcliffe items hospital in Vietnam. there, hehelped went salvage to a hospital from the laundry others out the fire. Center in in Japan, then to while Walter Reedput Army Medical D.C., effectively ffectively tour. tour.in May 2009 and Radcliffe came ending back to his Killeen After about two months he was stabilized andassent received an honorable discharge on July 29, 2012, a to Fort Meade, Maryland, for light duty. Right after specialist. He was scheduled to deploy a fourth time but he got out of the hospital, he was promoted to captain. couldn’tspent go asabout he wasa having on his becoming shoulder. In all, Dever year atsurgery Fort Meade, he served nine years andofone company commander themonth. Army garrison before he left.Today, he is manager of the SlapStix Comedy Club in He then went to an advanced training course at Fort Woodway. Sill, Oklahoma, where he geared up to go back to “I’m glad I did it,” Radcliffe said of his service, adding, “I Vietnam. wouldn’t change it. It made me the person I am today, along Next serves in Vietnam and goes with myweek: family,Dever coaches andagain teachers I had growing up.” 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org. a story about Central Texas veteran, please email email@example.com. Voices” is “Veterans’ Voices” is proudly“Veterans’ sponsored 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.