GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL)– Rick Storey is no stranger to serving the people of Washington County, Tennessee. He’s the county trustee and president of the Appalachian Fair Board, and his passion for helping others started in the Army.
“I served in the Army, I was drafted. Served, did my duty here stateside, going through training and everything, and then went to Fort Polk and then eventually ended up in Vietnam,” Storey said.
Storey was an infantryman during his time in Vietnam.
“We were just in the jungle and just a different warfare,” he said. “I was with the First Cavalry and just infantry. We were just boots on the ground there.”
On May 6, 1969, Storey was injured.
“We’d been ambushed earlier or that afternoon and half of my team was lead platoon that day,” he said. “You couldn’t see them because the canopy was so thick. It was about 1 p.m. or something when everything kind of broke loose and several were injured. We had to be med-evaced out and got back to any type of real medical attention about seven that evening.”
Storey spent six months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. before returning home and receiving a Purple Heart.
“Nobody goes over to get a Purple Heart,” he said. “Some of them some of them lose a lot for a Purple Heart.”
When he came home to Washington County, Storey started serving those in his community.
“When you’re in service, you’re always dependent on the other folks, and they’re depending on you and you kind of carry it over when you come out,” he said. “I was in a local Ruritan Club here after I got out of the service for a number of years that associated with the fair because we had a concession stand here. 40-something years later, I’ve still been on the board and still working there.”
Now, as the president of the Appalachian Fair board, he always lends a hand, especially during fair week, wherever he is needed.
“If we need somebody to help in the entertainment area or with parking or something wrong in the building, then we’ll do whatever needs to be done,” Storey said. “We’re just kind of ceremonial but just kind of getting the job done.”
He’s seen the fair change a lot throughout the years, but he said seeing people have an appreciation for agriculture remains a highlight.
“It’s interesting just watching those children as they go through the barn,” Storey said. “Somebody will tell them about the cattle or when the dairy folks are here and they’re milking or something just to see what goes on there.”
Storey’s service doesn’t stop with the fair. His day job is spent as the county trustee.
“You’ve got to work with people,” he said. “Sometimes what you think is not always right. You’ve got to listen to other folks. I think it’s all part of leadership. It’s a job that you need to know what you’re doing there, but you need to know what direction where you can guide people.”
His skills learned in the service carry over into his roles.
“If you put your time in service compared to the civilian life, you learn a lot of discipline and service. Sometimes it takes more than once to do something to learn how you’re doing,” he said. “But, there’s a lot of discipline and working together. And I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Storey is also involved in other organizations and boards throughout Washington County, Tennessee.
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