MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Transitioning from the Armed Forces to civilian life is not easy, but for a state, like North Dakota, we have generations of people who did just that as they became our neighbors, colleagues, and friends.
Minot hosted an event on Thursday to help these men and women start the next chapter in their lives.
Jim Weaver served in the Air Force for 21 years, nine months, and six days, where he was in charge of the ICBM missiles in North Dakota.
“They had an entrance exam where you scored on, but they also had a draft at that time too, but I volunteered,” said Jim Weaver, an Air Force Veteran.
He says he joined because his scores were high enough to serve in this special role.
He retired in 1991 and was a volunteer fireman for 28 years in Minot, but that was not the only reason he decided to serve.
“It was something that needed to be done at that time. It was like we went into World War I, World War II, everybody was volunteering because we were attacked. Well Vietnam, I had friends over in Vietnam, one of them is on the Vietnam Wall and it was something to do,” said Weaver.
He spent 20 years at the Minot Air Force Base and one year in Sicily, which he says was more like a vacation because he has Sicilian roots.
Reporter Corbin Warnock also got to speak with an Army Korean War veteran, who told Warnock about his role in the Army.
“I was in charge of a 155 gun that is the heavy artillery. We could fire 17 miles, that projectile weighed 95 pounds and to throw 17 miles is quite a deal,” said George Gilfus, an Army Korean War Veteran.
Being drafted into war is not the only reason veterans joined the branch they served in.
Wayne Couse says he wanted something different in his life.
He lived around the world and enlisted in the Air Force serving 21 years in Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Iraq.
“During the ’88 Olympics, I was in Kutsen, Korea when the Olympic Torch came through and that was so neat because the Olympic Torch came out and they stopped in front of us for an interview and the Kutsen Mayor was there. We got our chance to sit there, and I actually had my hand on the torch for a brief moment, but they would not let it go. I tried,” said Wayne Couse, an Air Force Veteran.
During his spare time, some hobbies include model railroading and he used that experience recently.
“This summer, I was driving the Magic City Express in the park every weekend and then I spend a lot of time doing stuff with my church now and then,” said Couse.
Warnock also got to sit down with a World War II veteran who just turned 96, who has been overseas and also plays the carpenter saw with a violin bow.
“I was in the Navy, I was in Pearl Harbor, Okinawa, and China and across the equator,” said Dee, a World War II Navy Veteran.
And he played an essential role in the Navy.
“Getting the boats out the big 90-foot boom take the boats up 40-foot motor launches off the ship turn them around right out to sea drop them in there,” said Dee.
Dee shared a story of getting to safety in a storm.
“One time when we were in Okinawa, we had to get back, we were at shore. We could only get so far. There was this typhoon coming. One of the worst typhoons in Okinawa, it was 105-mile-hour winds, 65-foot waves, and we were the flagship to that little bunch of ships out there. we had to get aboard ship. All us guys, probably 30 guys, on a 40-foot motorboat,” said Dee.
All these stories are from people who live all around us.
It’s important to sit back and listen because we live among people who shaped our history.
Veterans from the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Korean War, and World War II were in attendance gathering any resources they needed.