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Aspiring dentist Richard Cary pulled duty in three wars - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Aspiring dentist Richard Cary pulled duty in three wars

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Near Gray, TX -

After growing up in Atlanta, Texas, it was off to trade school in Wichita, Kansas, then off to work in the California shipyards. Doesn't exactly sound like the path of an Army colonel. But it was for Richard Cary, who became a veteran of three wars.

"I started at the bottom," Cary says, looking at a wall of his military accomplishments at his lake house near Gray, Texas.

Cary was drafted into World War II. His welding skills were put to work fixing equipment used to build supply roads from India to China. Back home from the war, he wanted to forge his own path.

"So I decided G.I. bill. I'm going to go to school and become a dentist," Cary remembers thinking.

He was about to get his bachelor's from Wichita State and head to dental school. But since he was ROTC, that degree came with an officer's commission in infantry.

"And that's how I ended up in Korea," Cary explained.

That's where he lead a rifle company into battle as a first lieutenant, earning the first of two Bronze Stars and the Combat Infantry Badge -- in the loudest way.

"It was about 300 (enemy) rounds on our company position, 122-millimeter mortar fire and so forth," Cary remembers, raising his hands as if to cover.

After Korea, Cary went into Army counter-intelligence school. And that's how he served three tours in the Vietnam War -- as a battalion commander spying on the enemy.

"My job was to find out where their operations were," Cary said.

He rose to the rank of colonel before retiring in 1980 as a veteran of three wars.

"I wouldn't change it for the world," Cary says. "Certainly I had not planned to be in the military for all my life. But I would say that I had a good life."

Cary and his wife have enjoyed a peaceful retirement by the water and cypress trees of Caddo Lake near Gray, Texas, where Cary soaked in his love of boating and fishing.

"I knew exactly where I wanted to be," Cary says, looking out from his back deck by the lake. "And this is about as close as I had imagined."

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