OKEECHOBEE — Veteran Paul Preston was raised in Kentucky and was attending Southeastern Christian College, but his family was poor, he explained. “Daddy didn’t have enough money to keep me in college, and once you drop out of college and are not carrying 12 credit hours, they pick up on that information real easy. I was drafted into the United States Army in March of 1969.”
This was during the Vietnam War. He did his basic training in Fort Knox Kentucky and then was assigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where they trained the fourth army of medics. All of the medics who went to Vietnam were trained there.
Based on his prior training in electronics before he went to college, he went to electronics school though. He already knew how to work on televisions and radios, things like that. They picked up on that when he got there, and they assigned him to the closed circuit television station, and he did maintenance on that equipment as well as ran programming that was shown in the classroom — the whole gambit — anatomy, physiology, how to give shots, do IVs in the field, emergency bandages. That was his part of training the Army medics.
“I was a lucky man. I did not have to go to ‘Nam,” he said. “They kept me there, and I worked on PRC10s, PRC25 radios, but I got to stay in Fort Sam Houston.”
When he left the service as a Specialist 5, after two years, he went home to Kentucky and went to work in a factory. He said he would serve again if Uncle Sam said he needed him again today.
He and his wife Barbara have been married for 46 years and have been coming to Okeechobee every winter for the last 10 years. They enjoy spending time at the Young at Heart Center of Okeechobee with their neighbors Bob and Sherry Klepper. “It’s a great place to fellowship with other people and learn new things,” he said. The Young at Heart Center used to be called the Lottie Raulerson Senior Center and is located at 1690 N.W. Ninth Avenue. Mr. Preston said if you are over 60, you should come down and check it out.