SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Each month SylacaugaNews.com and YEA!106.5 feature a veteran online and on-air, honoring them for their service to our country. The SylacaugaNews.com Veteran of the Month for March is Don Wilson.
*note SN is abbreviated SylacaugaNews.com, DW is abbreviated for our featured veteran, Don Wilson.
SN: What is your full name?
DW: Donald Eugene Wilson
SN: What is your date of birth?
DW: December 22, 1943
SN: What is your rank?
DW: My rank was an E6 in the Navy.
SN: What was your job?
DW: I was a diesel mechanic and associated shipboard machinery.
SN: When did begin serving and when did you complete your service?
DW: I went in the Navy in February 1963, had a four year enlistment that ended, then I extended for a year. I went over to Vietnam for a year, and came off active duty in February 1968. I had two years broken service, then 10 years of inactive Naval reserve duty, and drilled at Graymont Avenue in Birmingham.
SN: Did you serve stateside or overseas?
DW: My first duty station was in Long Beach, California, and I was stationed with Naval Ordinance Test Station off of Long Beach. We operated off of San Clemente Island. I was out there for approximately a year, then they transferred me to an ARS, a rescue and salvage ship, home ported in Hawaii. We were home ported there for a year and a half, then we changed home ports and ended up in Guam. I was aboard that ship for two and a half years. We were always making west back crews, so I’ve been to Hong Kong, Korea, I spent a Christmas in Sasebo, Japan, Hawaii, the Philippines, salvaged an old APA the American Navy sent the Philippine Navy at the baton harbor for about four or five months, and I left Guam in December of 1967, then I was discharged in 1968.
SN: What’s something you remember most about your time serving?
DW: I guess what I remember most is the places I went to that I never would get to go back to. When I was in Hawaii, we laid a racetrack for porpoises, and they were to be used for communication purposes off the Oahu Island. Also, the people I met in the Philippines while we were doing the salvage job. Eating a meal off the Hong Kong harbor off of a floating restaurant. The people I met in Guam, we became good friends. Then the time I was in Vietnam, I was base support for the swift boats, and we were about 60 miles east of Saigon, and I did my part. The country called and I went. The people I met and the places I went, and also my dad served in World War II. He was in Germany, and he was a courier. My father-in-law also served in World War II, and he came out; he was disabled. He didn’t have the help back then after he got out that you have now. I have a brother who passed last year, who was a paratrooper in Korea. He was an active member in the Purple Heart Association. So I have a history of family in military service.
SN: If you could say something to those who want to serve, what would you tell them?
DW: I think each young person should serve this country in some capacity. I chose the military. My thoughts to young people nowadays is that whether you choose to go in the military, or whether you choose to go in a different direction, it’s important to serve your country. Be thankful for what we’ve got.
SN: If you could, would you do it again, and why?
DW: Absolutely I’d do it again. As I mentioned before, I love my country, and I think everybody living in America needs to serve their country in some capacity. I would be willing to go back if I could.