In honor of Veterans Day, which is Monday, Walter Belcher, a pharmacist at CVS in Harlan and 20 year veteran was chosen for this week’s feature.
Joining the U.S. Army in November, 1984 at the age of 21, Belcher worked in communications and electronics.
“I was with the 101st Airborne of the U.S. Army for a period of four years. I went to the Air Assault School while at Fort Campbell,” said Belcher. “I did a two year tour in Germany and while there I was given leave and returned home and married my wife, Melissa, taking her back with me to Germany for approximately one year.”
After four years, Belcher said he decided being in the regular Army was not what he wanted to do, especially after he had married, so he decided to join the National Guard.
“I was in the Stark Command of the Virginia National Guard for a little over 16 years. I had no break in service — going directly into the National Guard from the Army,” said Belcher. “I was still in communications and electronics with the Combat Engineers Unit.”
Belcher said in 2003, he was deployed to Kuwait, where he served for approximately one year.
“The war began a month after I got there,” said Belcher. “We were there to build roads. Because we got there early on there were still a lot of insurgents left there in these towns, so what we did was we built a real hard passageway so the enemy couldn’t pass through. We set up land mines, barriers, tank ditches, triple-strand wire fences and machine gun nests there. We had Al-qaeda and the Taliban forces on the ground fighting us.”
Belcher said they also built roads in Iraq to continue with providing transportation to the soldiers on the ground. He said they were building infrastructure for the war to continue. He added they also built buildings, sidewalks and did wiring.
Belcher said the intense heat of the Middle East was hard to endure with temperatures reaching 120 to 140 degrees at times. He said he also experienced blowing sand storms.
“When I deployed to Kuwait, I saw Vietnam and World War II veterans there seeing us off and I thought we honor you because you have already faced yours and now it’s time we do ours,” said Belcher. “I love my country. I love our veterans — they are my brothers at arms. No matter what branch of service any male or female served in they put their lives in danger — in harm’s way to keep our freedom. “
Receiving his degree in Pharmacy, Belcher graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2005 and that same year retired after 20 years of service with the U. S. Army and National Guard. Now 50 years old, Belcher said he received “a lot of medals” while in the service, but the one he was most proud of was the U. S. Army Commendation for his tour in Kuwait.
Belcher and his wife have two daughters Lauryn and Lindsey.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, email@example.com