Local veterans talk service

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2015


Arthur Ash once said, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Eight veterans who are members of the Andalusia Lions Club on Wednesday shared briefly their experiences while serving the country.



From Andalusia to Barksdale Air Force Base to Souda Bay, Crete to Hurlbert Field, the U.S. Air Force made a life for James Beamon.

“I was just an average citizen who never sought fame and glory,” he said.

Beamon joined the USAF in 1963 as part of the Strategic Air Command.

“I helped secure planes from the enemy,” he said.

Eventually Beamon made his way to Souda Bay, Crete.

“I hadn’t gone anywhere before,” he said.

There he developed knowledge of the Greek language.

“I wanted to know about the Greek people,” he said. “It was a beautiful place.”

When he got back stateside, he received top secret Air Force clearance and was transferred to Hurlbert Field. He retired in 1983.



Buddy King joined the National Guard at 16.

“I stayed with the Andalusia National Guard,” he said. “It was a combat battery. There was a lot of turmoil in the 50s.”

King said he stayed in the National Guard for 11 years.

“I should have stayed in nine more,” he said. “I have been sorry I didn’t ever since.”



Sammy Glover grew up in a single parent home and knew furthering his education wasn’t an option, so he decided the military was his best option.

“Four friends and I enlisted in the Army under the buddy system,” he said. “That’s where you all go to the same place.”

Glover went to basic training at Fort Gordon, Ga., and AIT at Fort Benning, Ga.

Glover said he was at AIT in November 1963.

“We were making a radio with an AM receiver,” he said. “We had to assemble correctly and when we did we could pick up stations. I began to hear voices. I felt good because I knew I had assembled mine correctly. I heard that President Kennedy was assassinated.”

His superior officer “chewed him up one side and down the other” for saying what he had heard on the radio.

“He convinced me that I didn’t hear it,” he said. “About 10 minutes later, the captain came in and told us that he was sorry to report that our Commander in Chief had been killed.”

Glover said that when it was time for evaluation, he asked to be sent to Fort Rucker or to Hawaii.

“On Dec. 23, 1963, I got on an airplane to Honolulu,” he said. “I was in winter greens in 80-degree weather.”

In December 1965, Glover said he and others were told to pack up their personal belongings and ship them home.

“We started getting up at 4 a.m. every morning,” he said. “We started taking classes on what was happening in Southeast Asia. We knew we were going.”

Glover said helicopter pilots were training on Oahu.

“One morning, we got up at 4 a.m., and heard motors, were taken on 5-ton trucks to a ship to Vietnam,” he said.

Glover was finishing up his three-year tour.

“I spent five months over there,” he said.

At the end of his tour, he was sent to San Francisco and treated to a steak dinner with ice cream.

The Army tried to convince him to sign-on again, but he wanted to go home.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “It was the best experience to happen to me. It matured me. Gave me confidence. It was what a young man needed. We were in a war that wasn’t well received when we came back.”

Glover said it was hard to pass a house that you shot at with women and children.

“But we were taught, that if they shot at you, you shoot at them,” he said. “I hope I didn’t kill anyone.”

Glover said that his time in the military was the longest amount of time he’s spent outside of Covington County.



Retired LBWCC instructor Fred Winkler said he joined the Army and went to Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic combat training.

Winkler said he was fond of shooting the M1 rifle and the .50 caliber machine gun.

“I truly enjoyed shooting,” he said. “I think I could have been a killer.”

Winkler was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for AIT.

“They called it Little Korea because it was so cold,” he said. “We marched everywhere.”

There, Winkler learned to set up and take down minefields.

He was then shipped to Germany by ship, where he got into a medical unit.

Winkler said the sergeant wasn’t too happy to have him on his unit.

“He said, ‘The next thing y’all will be sending me a damn diesel mechanic to make a medic out of,’ ” Winkler recalled.

While Winkler was in Germany, there was fear that Russia would take over Germany.

“There were GI’s on every street corner,” he said. “They were prepared to slow Russia down.”

Winkler said he was sent to Czechoslovakian border, where they conducted live fire night shootings.

“Many of them couldn’t tell where the hell they were shooting,” he said.



Carol Mullis was drafted in 1964 and chose to serve in the Air Force.

“In May of 1964, my mother handed me a note that said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been selected,’” he said. “The next say I went to the basement of the courthouse and the first door I came to was the Air Force.”

Mullis said he went to Jacksonville, Fla., had a physical and was sworn in.

Basic training to an old farm boy from Georgia was a piece of cake, he said.

“My only problem was I grinned,” he said. “But it didn’t take my drill instructor but one time to break me of that.”

After basic, he was sent to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., where he learned aircraft control and warning.

He was sent to Germany at the end of 1964.

His duty was to help control the air space between Germany, East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

“When I first got there, we had an old aircraft for interception, and if we needed to run interception, we had to cut them off because we were too slow to catch,” he said.

Then the got an F-4 Phantom and the enemy couldn’t out run them any longer.

“I grew up in three years I was there,” he said. “I got to travel to most of the countries.”



John Howard went to basic training in 1953 at Fort Jackson, S.C.

“Two weeks in I got bronchial pneumonia,” he said. “Two or three weeks after I got out of the hospital, they finally reassigned me. It was the strangest group. Everyone had one year of college,” he said. “Training wasn’t hard. I grew up in the country, you could have beat me with a hickory stick and I wouldn’t have bruised.”

Howard said they found out that they were specially selected to see how they would perform under a leader with an eighth grade education from Rockford.

Howard was selected to go to intermediate speed radio operator school at Fort Jackson.

There he learned code.

Howard eventually went to Korea.

When he boarded the ship from California to Korea, Howard said he was assigned guard duty on the first ship.

He said so many people were getting sick that he had to do hours and hours of duty.

“As you can imagine, I was pretty damned tired,” he said. “I sat down in the doorway. The first lieutenant got on my butt pretty bad. He told me he would get me some relief. I went and laid down and before I could get to sleep, they called my name over the loud speaker, and I had to go before the colonel.”

Howard said he got thrown in the brig for 24 hours.

“I got to sleep for 24 hours and when I got out all the duties were full,” he said.

He served in the 43rd Division with the Arizona National Guard and moved to the 7th Infantry, while there.

“The sent down a levy, that said they need people to sign up for the 25th Division to go back to Hawaii,” he said. “I had spent one winter in Korea already.”

Luck was on Howard’s side and he spent his last four months in Hawaii.

“The Army taught me a lot,” he said. “It taught me discipline.”



Charlie Studstill served in the 31st Dixie Division, 117th Field Artillery Headquarters Battery.

“I joined in 1960 before I graduated from high school,” he said. “I went to basic training in September of 1960 at Fort Jackson, S.C., and AIT at Fort Sill, Okla., as an artillery surveyor.”

Studstill spent eight years in the Army.

“I had no combat duties,” he said “But there were plenty of civil disturbances during the 60s. And we conducted a search and rescue mission at the forks of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers after a small plane went missing.”



John Vick said he received a Navy ROTC scholarship at Auburn.

He received his mechanical engineering degree from Auburn in 1962 and was commissioned at the same time.

After he went aboard the USS Randolph aircraft carrier and under went a flight class in November of 1962.

Vick said he voluntarily left flight class in January 1963 and went to Newport, R.I, aboard the USS Cromwell.

“I served two years as a damage control tech,” he said.

Vick said he asked to be shipped south.

He was eventually sent to Charleston, S.C., where he made chief engineer on the USS McCard.

During his time in the military, Vick said he was able to visit 23 countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Pakistan and India and the Suez Canal.

He was aboard a Navy ship not far from Colombia the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

He retired in 1966 as a lieutenant, which is an O3 in the Navy.