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A father's service

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PARKERSBURG (KWWL) -- Everyone knows a family member or a close friend who has served in the armed forces. Some have even been major influences in our lives.

I have learned a lot from Vietnam veteran who just happens to be my dad.

Before there was John Wayne Wilmer, there was John Walter Wilmer. My dad grew up in a small town in central Iowa and like many teens in the late sixties faced an uncertain future with a war raging on the other side of the world.

Instead of waiting to be drafted he decided to enlist in the Army.

"I was a Midwestern kid. Just grew up in Alden, Iowa and never seen any place never been out of Iowa. It was something to do," my dad said.

That something to do turned into two years of training and serving in Vietnam as a radio carrier and relay. They were kids straight out of high school doing men's work while putting their life on the line.

"They basically do what they're told and go into a situation where they don't know if they're going to be coming back alive and that's everyday," said my dad.

When he returned home there was no welcome home ceremony. Vietnam veterans quietly returned to their lives back home.

My dad says he didn't do it because he wanted to be recognized, he did because it was the right thing to do.

"It was an honor to serve and it still is, but we all have to remember that these men should be kept in high esteem," said my dad.

My dad is very grateful for those who organize the send-off and welcome home ceremonies today, as well as the honor flights. He says it's important to remember those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom.

 Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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