WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Cold War veteran said he’s still dear friends with soldiers he met in the Army.
Larry McNown said he was a junior in college in 1971, and he knew what was coming.
“I won the lottery, and first prize was an all-expense-paid trip overseas,” veteran Larry McNown said.
He proudly wears a jacket, covered in insignia and patches, that takes him back to his time in Augsburg, Germany.
“First Sgt. asked me, he says, can you type?” McNown said.
McNown knew how to type, because his parents encouraged him to take typing in high school.
His father had that same skill and was a World War II clerk.
“I was a clerk when we were back in the garrison, and gun bunny when we go into the field,” McNown said.
He said in the field they trained on howitzers, the big guns, for what might happen.
“The First Sgt. said this is the real thing, we are on full alert, the Russians are coming,” McNown said.
The Cold War was on.
“They had the guns fully loaded, the ammunition, they had nukes down at Augsburg, and they had them loaded up and they were going to meet us up there,” McNown said.
He made it home safely, and then went back to his studies, using the GI Bill.
“I eventually got my dream job, in my dream location, I went back to Germany for five years to work as a civilian,” McNown said.
McNown loved all the history, and the sightseeing opportunities while living in Germany.
He eventually retired from the Department of the Army, then years later, he went to Afghanistan to work as a contractor with the Army.
“One of the hardest years of my life, because the living conditions were sparse,” McNown said.
He lived with 20 military members in a tent.
“We got rocket attacks on a daily basis and sniper fire in,” McNown said.
He also lived in a shipping crate but said that didn’t matter.
“They was coming up thanking us, for being there, they made it a lot easier for us, just for being there,” McNown said.
He said they came up with many ways to boost moral.
“They would tell me, said it was so great to get away from the insanity, that is going on, outside,” McNown said.
He remembered a Christmas parade, where they decorated their military vehicles, and he said the soldiers really got into it with costumes and all.
“The last float went by and the gates of the FOB opens up and a convoy comes in that had been ambushed, so here we are having this great fun and all of a sudden it is back to reality,” McNown said.
He said they also helped military members cope with that reality that included losing comrades.
“That was just gut-wrenching to me, I felt for the soldier there and also felt for the parents back there, who had just lost their son,” McNown said.
He said he always drew from his time in uniform, while he continued to serve others.
“Most rewarding job,” McNown said.
Just as his father did in WWII, he’s thankful he answered the country’s call.
“I thought I had a bad birthdate when they drew my number out of that bin, on that fateful night, but that was one of the best things I did,” McNown said. “It got me started in a career I really enjoyed.”
McNown is still giving back, as he drives a Disabled American Veteran van, and helps get fellow veterans to and from their appointments at the VA.