STORY AND PHOTOS BY SHERI TRUSTY
The communities all around Ottawa County are home to a wide range of military veterans, and each and every one has their own stories about serving our country. Here are just a few of the stories and their unique experiences.
Chuck Beaver, Army, Spec. 4, 1959-1961
When Chuck Beaver volunteered to join the Army in the midst of the Vietnam War, he had no idea he was headed instead to Germany to save a life. He spent his first year as an MP, but when his company was disbanded, he was transferred to a combat engineer battalion. There, his duties included bridge construction.
“One night, we were building a bridge in January. It was cold, and there was ice on the banks. I was putting in bolts and assembling the bridge when five guys went by in a 10-foot boat,” said Beaver. “There was a two-foot dam, and the boat went down. One of the guys didn’t know how to swim, so he clung to the boat and got caught on a piling. I jumped into the cold water and pulled him out. That was an experience.”
Douglas Moore, Air Force, Master Sergeant, 1975-1999
During his four years at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Moore represented the Air Force in all-military skiing competitions, where he won gold, silver and bronze medals. Although he enjoyed the sport, he said the greatest skill he learned in the military was sheet metal work. It is a skill that began benefiting the Port Clinton community when Moore was hired by the Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation to head the restoration of the Ford Tri-Motor air plane at Liberty Aviation Museum.
“The Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation contracted me to build the Ford Tri-Motor. I’m in charge of building it and leading all the volunteers to make sure they build it to aviation standards,” said Moore. “One of the highlights of my career was being able to ski the Alps in Europe and represent the Air Force and our base in the races.”
Dave Bishop, Army, Spec. 4, 1966-1968
In the summer of 1966, Dave Bishop found himself “with a diploma in one hand and a draft notice in the other.” During the 1968 Tet Offensive, while enduring a military campaign of surprise attacks launched by the Viet Cong and their allies, Bishop was working with a supply division processing freighter shipments.
“The night of Tet, I was on guard duty in a petroleum storage area. It was attacked, but it was repelled. It was scary. I’m here with all these tanks of fuel, not knowing what was going on. I was there all night,” Bishop said. “In the morning, an unexploded mortar shell was found inside a fuel tank. I was lucky it didn’t go off because it was full of jet fuel.
“I don’t have any animosity about what happened back then. It was war, and we did what we had to do. We served our country.”
John Heminger, Air Force and National Guard, E6 Tech Sergeant, 1969-1973 and 1977-1995
John Heminger was initially stationed 25 miles from the international dateline and 50 miles from Russian territory at Tin City Air Force radar station in Alaska, where he worked as a cook. He rejoined the military in 1977 under a National Guard program that allowed prior enlisted soldiers to join for one year. Heminger reenlisted, serving with the Toledo National Guard, and stayed for two decades.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but there was something missing in my life, so I reenlisted. I finished with 20 years active duty with the Guard,” he said. “From the beginning of my service to the end were two very different jobs. The highlight was the overall experience and the opportunities I had. It gave me the ability to travel, and I took numerous flights visiting family and traveling to England, Germany and the Virgin Islands. The job itself and the side benefits it offered made the whole experience very worthwhile.”
Loren Nowak, Army Corporal, 1952-1954
In June, 1952, Loren Nowak got married, and just four months later, he received a draft notice. His entire service was spent in Virginia, where he worked in the OB-GYN clinic at Fort Lee Army Hospital. The hospital doubled as a Women’s Army Corp (WAC) training center.
“I made appointments for WACs and for dependents, and I cleaned and organized supplies. One year, my wife spent a week with me over Christmas and New Year. The following September, we had our first child. She was born at Ft. Lee,” said Nowak. “That was definitely one of the highlights. I lost my wife just two weeks shy of our 64th anniversary. I didn’t like being in the military at the time, but after I got out, I realized the good it did for me. I think it made me a better person, a better man.”
Daryle Damschroder, Ohio National Guard, E4, 1965-1971
Daryle Damschroder initially served with the 107th Armored in the National Guard at the now-closed Oak Harbor Armory, where he worked in the supply office. When the 107th was redesignated as the 612th Engineers Battalion, he was moved to Camp Perry and became a part of the camp’s long and unique history of military service. A call to active duty in July, 1967, was spurred by someone’s irrational and overactive imagination, he said.
“The 612th Engineer Battalion was in charge of Camp Perry. We managed the upkeep, the summer camps and the National Matches. We did a lot of maintenance and reworking of buildings, most of which are long-gone,” said Damschroder. “We were active for a short time because of the race riots in Detroit. The Toledo police were alerted that a convoy was coming from Detroit, but it was just a family of black people going to a reunion.”