Two Stories Show What the Nation Honors on This Day
By JESSIE SMITH
On November 11, the United States will take a moment to remember and honor the many veterans who have served the nation in the past and the veterans who are currently serving. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 974 veterans live in Little River County, and their service ranges as far back as World War II to the present.
Little River County will host a celebration to honor and recognize the veterans on November 8 at 1 p.m. at the front lawn of the Little River County Courthouse. Bob Shirron, who retired from his military service as an admiral, is the guest speaker.
Oscar Hamilton Elementary will honor veterans on November 7 at 6 p.m., and Foreman High School will put on a program to honor the veterans on November 11 at 8 a.m. On November 11 at 6 p.m., Ashdown Public Schools will present two honorary diplomas to veterans Billy Wayne Adkison and William Daniel Booth Jr., who may not have been given the opportunity to earn high school diplomas due to their service.
The Little River News took this opportunity to honor two different types of veterans — an Army officer from the Cold War era and one of the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) from World War II.
Paul Foster is the veterans service officer at the Ashdown Arkansas Veterans Service Office, which serves Little River County. Foster grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 1969, and he retired in June 1993 as a chief warrant officer 3. He worked as an automotive maintenance technician.
He served over 11 years in Germany and two years in Korea, and he spent most of the other 15 years in Colorado.“It was just the idea to serve,” Foster said.After Foster retired, he went into government contracting in Colorado, and a project brought him to the Red River Army Depot. “I came down here in 2001 and met my wife, and [I’ve] been here ever since,” Foster said.
Now Foster works in the Veterans Service Office where he assists veterans in Little River County. He can file claims for veterans who were injured in or as a result of active duty, and he can file paperwork on behalf of veterans or their families.
He said he serves around 30-35 people per month on average. His piece of advice to veterans today is to secure a copy of their discharge papers. “Just to keep up with the support to our soldiers and what they do,” Foster said, “that’s really, really a big thing.” He said the military is a good career.
One of the biggest things he learned during his career was leadership. “Even if you don’t want to make it a 20-year career, make it the best you can while you’re in,” Foster said. “It’s a camaraderie you don’t find too many other places.”
Mary Sue Mills
Mary Sue Mills will turn 100 years old this week, and she was one of the first WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in the U.S. Navy during World War II.In 1943, Mills quit her job at the chemical plant in Dumas, Texas, in order to join the WAVES.
She went through boot camp at the Naval Training Center in New York. “Boot camp was rough,” Mills said. “But it woke you up and made you realize something is bigger than yourself, and you could not go home.”
Mills was trained as an aviation metalsmith in Oklahoma, and she said she liked the welding. In October 1945, Mills received her discharge, and her form stated, “Mills was first class in every respect, always ready and willing, a lady neat, clean, and always on the job.”
The war was over, but Mills was far from finished with her work. She returned to Ashdown and married her childhood sweetheart. She pursued work at the Arkansas Employment Security Division, and she also won awards for her art.
Mills has lived in Ashdown a long time, and she will be celebrating her 100th birthday party on November 8 at Cornerstone Skilled Nursing in Texarkana, Texas.
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