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San Jacinto News Times - Local News

Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company

 

'We're not letting them forget'

 

"We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause." –President Ronald Reagan

By Megan Whitworth
Editor

December 2014 Dale Everitt stood in the same spot his father, Wallace A. Everitt stood 70 years prior, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II in the Western Front of Europe. "We were at the location that he dug in the foxholes on Dec. 16, 1945," Dale said as his wife, Sharron, and children, Richard and Shay joined him. "We stood in the snow at 5:30 a.m. at the time of the attack with lights off and looking through the Eiffel Mist trying to comprehend what they were facing at the time of the battle. A very eerie feeling." In May 2016, Dale, along with his son, traveled from Normandy to Pilsen to travel the same roads as his father did during World War II. "I did the last leg with my son at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia and stood right in the square where (my father stood)," Dale said. "…The old Pilsen brewery was there; we had a few beers and stayed the night." The reason Dale traveled the same roads his father did is because Wallace wouldn't talk about his time in the military, only after a few drinks he would then ask the question, "Why did I get to come home and they didn't? "Everything I learned about all he did was after he died. He wouldn't talk about it. He would tell a funny story and that was it. He had a survivors guilt," Dale said of his late father who passed away at 62. Initially, Wallace joined the military at 17-years-old, lying about his age because "he needed a job," his son said. "He just flat needed a job," Dale said. "He was assigned to the second infantry division. He went to Fort Sam Houston and that is where the second infantry division was at the time. The war broke out, and they trained them in Oklahoma. That is where he met my mother. They got married; I was born just before he went overseas preparing for Normandy." After serving 23 years in the U.S. Army, Dale said his father retired after receiving orders to go to Vietnam as an advisor in 1963, only two years before Dale himself was drafted to assist the Army during the Vietnam War. "He said he lived through two wars, and he didn't know if he could live through another one," Dale said of his late father. "And he had little children and he didn't go." A date to not forget, Dale was drafted to the U.S. Military at 22-years-old on Dec. 22, 1965. "I was not overjoyed," Dale said were his first thoughts when he was drafted that winter. That Christmas he was able to come home with other soldiers, whom lived 200 miles within Fort Polk. The day after he had to return to base. "I said, 'You know, I'm going to make the best of it. …I developed an attitude of, 'If I'm going to do it, let's just get it done,'" he said. "… It was a time of people were in the military who didn't want to be in the military; it was those who were just getting out of the military service avoiding the draft by all kinds of reasons. "It was a different time; I can sympathize with those who had taken to the streets, and so could of a lot of them," Everitt said. "A lot of them had the feeling we were there treading water. You could only go so far, then you had to cut back; you weren't there to win it. You were there to secure a border." Before being drafted, Dale joined the Houston Fire Department and received First Aid training among other medical training. When most draftees "went straight to the infantry," Dale said because of his medical education he was stationed in the field hospital in the medical unit in San Antonio. "One of the things I got to do with being stationed in San Antonio was I got a chance to work with those soldiers returning that had been wounded," Dale said. "…It was very emotional, but they felt like they had somebody. ...There was one of our soldiers from San Jacinto County and I was able to visit with him." After two years of military service, Dale left the Army and returned home. He soon returned to work at the Houston Fire Department. He also became involved with the civil rights movement and volunteered to assist registering voters in the inner city. After 23 years Dale retired from the Fire Department as fire deputy chief. For years Dale said he didn't want anything to do with the military, but when Sept. 11, 2001 occurred, things changed. Soon after he joined the Harold G. Davis Post 629 in Camilla. He served as vice commander for two years and commander for four years. He also currently serves as San Jacinto County Veterans Service Officer. Even though Dale wasn't initially happy with the draft; he said he is grateful for his time in the military. Protection of people's rights is a reason people fight for freedom, Dale said. "People were still protesting, and I understood why they were protesting," Dale recalled from when he got home from service. "I also understood it was their right to protest, and if I would had tried to suppress them for protesting, my service would have been in vain. "After seeing and studying what (my father) and others have experienced, I realized how fortunate we were," he said. "I will be eternally grateful for our freedoms and as I stand at their graves, I will weep with tears of thanksgiving for what they gave to us." Nov. 11 is annually celebrated as Veterans Day to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much in order to defend and protect the nation – just like Dale and his father Wallace. This year San Jacinto County officials, in partnership with Harold G. Davis American Legion Post 629, will host the annual Veterans Day celebration on Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Courthouse Square. "There are people that don't study history and they don't know," Dale said. "…We're not going to let them forget."

 

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