10 years ago

Since we honor our veterans during the month of November, we decided we’d write a couple of Meet Your Neighbor articles this month and feature some really nice U.S. Veterans living here in Panhandle.
In our little community, we have several veterans we could highlight, and we appreciate every one of them and the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf. But alas, we only have so much room in our paper.
The veteran we chose to highlight this week is a gentleman whose stories could most definitely fill some empty pages; all interesting, and even entertaining. When you know his name, you’ll say, “Of course!” He can certainly weave a tale!
He was raised in Weinert, Texas. He joined the United States Army as a young man, went through Boot Camp at Fort Hood and Advanced Training at Fort Bliss in El Paso. In 1959, he was assigned to Hanna, Germany, close to Frankfurt, where he served for 19 months during a time of peace, “Everybody was happy, thank Goodness,” he said. “I didn’t mind not having guns pointed at me.”
We asked him, “What do you do in the Army when there is no war?”
He explained that the American soldiers worked alongside the German soldiers. “It was a job. We occupied Germany. We were there just in case the Russians got madder.”
They had summer and winter war games, where they practiced maneuvers with the Germans. This was to keep sharp, to be ready for war.
One of his fondest memories, during that time, is of handing candy out to the German children. He said the soldiers would go into the woods, and the children would come running out for a sweet treat, bringing comic books to give to the soldiers. “We couldn’t read the books because they were in German, so the kids would read them to us and just laugh and laugh.”
He came back to the states in October of 1960. He returned to Weinert, where he met his beloved bride-to-be in 1962, whom he married a year later and just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with last year. They had two sons and in 1973, his job with the Railroad Commission brought them to Panhandle. In 1991 he went to work for Groendyke Transportation until he retired in 2004.
Carrying on an old habit from his days in Germany, he’s known as “The Candy Man” at First Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and passes out sugary snacks every Sunday morning.
When we asked what his hobbies were, he said woodworking, mission work and traveling. He’s been to some small villages in Old Mexico with a group from his church to build churches and to do some improvement work on schools, homes and water systems. “And of course, to hold revivals,” he added.
We asked, “Any other hobbies you’d like to mention?” He said, “Growing old with a beautiful woman!” He said someone asked them what their secret to 50 years of happiness was. He replied, “Our first date was in church. We’ve stayed in church and kept God in the center of our marriage.”
Good advice, Veteran DeWayne Smith! God bless you for your dedicated life of service to God and country!DuaneSmith1