MANCHESTER, Mo. (KMOV.com) - For most people who serve in the military, it's not a career.
But whether someone serves a few years, or a few decades, they've made an important contribution to our country and for many, that contribution doesn't end when they leave active duty. From 1969 to 1972, Bill Pinkston drilled water wells at different camps in Vietnam during the war.
“Anything they needed me for, I had the operator’s license, so I could do it, but most of the time it was drilling the wells, that was the best part” said Pinkston.
The Manchester, Missouri native enlisted in the army at the age of 21. While he was mostly shielded from immediate danger, he says danger was never far away in the small remote country.
“The only place that was bad was at artillery bases when they started firing at 3:00 a.m., you don't know whether it's coming in or going out” described Pinkston. “You could set up at night, and I don't care where you were, anywhere in that country, there would be a Cobra helicopter putting the red line somewhere because somebody was giving somebody a hard time.”
After three years of active duty, Pinkston returned to St. Louis, holding jobs at companies like Bayer and Anheuser-Busch. As retirement neared, something else showed up on his radar, an opportunity to give back.
As he put it, “if everybody gave back a little, we would have a lot.”
Through the City of Manchester, Pinkston was asked to serve on the city's Veterans Commission.
“The VA helps a little, the America Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, they really needed the town people to help because those are the people who really should appreciate what they've done, what the sacrifice was,” said Pinkston.
One of the big projects the Veterans Commission is doing is turning a stretch of Manchester Road into a monument of banners to honor past and present members of the armed forces.
“As people drive through, they'll see it. it's one of those things where it's like appreciation and like a small town” described Pinkston.
He feels like his service now is just as important as when he was overseas, that the sacrifice of so many can't be forgotten.
Pinkston wants all of us to realize, “There's history in this county that people need to remember, and it's getting lost.”