With the Christmas season here, we honor a man in Christ -- and war veteran -- Dr. John Dansby.
You may know him as the minister at Russell Road Church of Christ. But did you know that John Dansby was in the Air Force 28 years? And that he was decorated for his duty in the Vietnam War as a weatherman? He helped cut off the enemy's main supply route.
"We had shot sensors down on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And so when it rained we knew they couldn't move. When it dried up, we knew they could. So that's when we sent the planes over to bomb," John says.
He earned a Bronze Star among his commendations as the chief weather observer for his unit, based near the combat zone in Thailand in 1971. They monitored and predicted the weather -- clouds, wind and monsoonal rains. It helped the Air Force know when and where to strike enemy convoys, wiping out their weapons and ammo -- and the enemy lives transporting them.
As a minister, how does he feel about that today?
"I have no regrets," John immediately replied. "I have no regrets at all, the part that I played in the Vietnam War. Because it was something that was necessary to save lives and save democracy in America."
John says when he enlisted in 1956, the so called hardcore career fields in the Air Force were not fully integrated. But he tested highly and was one of the few African Americans who were sent to weather school.
"Didn't know a thing about weather," John admits. But he added that he was determined to learn.
"You had to develop an interest in weather to get through the school. Because if you washed out of school you got put in the kitchen or somewhere. And so I wasn't going to wash out of school," John says, adding that his teachers in his native Fort Worth, Texas stressed the importance of good grades.
And while at different bases around the country and the world, John got prepared for his life after the Air Force -- by volunteering at churches.
"That's how I got my training -- on the job training -- in the churches," he says. "Germany, France, Korea, different places like that, working with missionaries that taught me."
After his stint at Barksdale Air Force Base to close out his military career with the highest enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant, John got even more involved with his church in Shreveport. They made him their senior minister in 1984, just as Russell Road Church of Christ finished building their campus. John led the drive, thanks to his experience in logistics through the Air Force, plus college business degrees he gained.
"Out of the Air Force in the United States of American and into the Army of God," John quips. "I love the church. I love church work. And I love People. I love to help people. And so that transition wasn't hard for me at all. And it's been rewarding."
A sense of duty never left John Dansby. Especially after the 9/11 attacks. After watching on TV, he says he tried to rejoin the Air Force to do logistics. That would've been when he was 63 years old. He was told he was one year too old.