(WJHL) — Pete Headley, 84, is part of the last generation to be drafted into the military.
He swore into the U.S. Army in 1959, launching his six-year service, two of which were spent in Japan, where his wife of 61 years birthed their first child.
Headley said that while stationed in Japan, he had intentions to join forces in Vietnam, but he was denied the request.
“I went to the company commander and said I would like to serve in Vietnam,” Headley said. “His immediate response was, ‘It’s getting hot over there.’ I’m thinking he’s talking about temperature, and I said, ‘Well, the heat doesn’t bother me,’ and he said, ‘Oh, no, I’m talking about everybody out of the hotels in tents or Quonset Huts wearing military uniforms and being combative with what we considered the enemy at that time.’ So, he turned down my request.”
After his time in the U.S. Army, Headley worked for an insurance business before retiring, but he knew his work wasn’t finished yet.
Headley wanted to give back to those who laid the foundation for his success, so the veteran joined forces with Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 in the Tri-Cities.
“We’ve helped a family kind of come to terms with the loss of a loved one, and we are there to remember, to honor and to respect,” Headley said of his work with the organization.
The 84-year-old also stays busy as the committee chair for Wreaths Across America, an initiative to honor those who served America, by raising money to place wreaths on gravesites at Mountain Home National Cemetery.
“I think the first year, we had about 400 wreaths,” Headley said. “Rolling Thunder has taken on the objective of 4,000 wreaths.”
To donate, CLICK HERE. The deadline is Nov. 24.