Dozens of veterans headed to our nation’s capitol on Wednesday to see the monuments made in their honor with HonorAir Knoxville.
A plane filled with veterans took off from McGhee Tyson Airport, including WATE 6 On Your Side investigative reporter Don Dare, who is a Vietnam veteran.
Don shared his military memories with WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Lori Tucker, including friends he made during his time in the service, some of whom didn’t come home.
“He was the point man on a patrol and he stepped on a landmine,” Don said, pointing at a photo.
Donald James Dare was on a different course in his service of our country.
“In 1968, college deferments ended. and that was my senior year. A group of us guys at North Carolina Weslyan College who wanted to chart our own destiny, with the military, went to Raleigh and took officer candidate school tests,” Don said. “I qualified for Army Officer Candidate School”
After Infantry Officer Candidate School, the second lieutenant entered the Signal Corps at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Through that, came Don’s introduction to television.
“I produced a weekly safety show and I also helped write and narrate some training videos for the Signal Corps,” Don said. “In 1969, I was assigned to that television division at Fort Gordon. I was there for nearly 18 months, got my orders for Vietnam went over to Vietnam not knowing what I was going to do.”
Don landed in Saigon at the US Armed Forces television station as the conflict was winding down, but there was still danger.
“We were in the big city and we weren’t out in the field. We were safe. Fortunately, I had the infantry training and we had guards around our TV station. And it was a serious thing for me because through the infantry training, I knew that we needed to protect our compound,” he said.
There, too, Don’s service through reporting, producing and anchoring was welcomed.
“We helped produce the the six o’clock TV show and the 10 o’clock TV show and then from midnight til 5 a.m., I helped produce and also did the anchoring of radio news,” Don said.
Don has an Army commendation for his work at Fort Gordon, a Joint Service Commendation Medal for his two months of work on the legendary Bob Hope Show, and the Bronze Star for Good Service. True to form, Don’s humility shows through.
“To me, the real medals are the ones that you win in combat. These are commendation medals for good service. And that’s important. But those, a Bronze Star for Valor is really to me a Bronze Sstar. A Bronze Sstar for Good Service is a medal for good work,” said Don.