A big salute to my favorite veteran–my husband, my hero, SSGT Chester Wells McCauley

Chester joined the US Air Force in January, 1969, after our marriage in May, 1968. (The first picture is of Chester in his Air Force uniform–tip from Dale McCauley–click on the picture to enlarge it; the second picture is of us on our 40th anniversary!) He then left for his basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas in April, 1969. I remained back in KY teaching school while he finished his basic and moved to Denver CO for more training. I joined him there in June, and we lived in a basement apartment within walking distance of the base. We left Denver in Sept. for a visit back to KY before arriving at his tech school training in Wichita KS, in October where we also lived in a basement apartment. When he completed his training there in Feb, 1970, we went back to KY for a month’s leave before he shipped out to Thailand in March. While in Thailand, he served at Tahkli AFB and Khorat AFB. This was during the height of the Viet Nam war, and he worked many 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week. He was often so tired that he was able to sleep on the concrete on the airstrip when he had the chance!

Chester was on the Lead Crew as a weapon’s mechanic, which meant he trained and certified other crews to load the bombs on several planes to fly from Thailand into Viet Nam.

He returned home from Thailand in January, 1971, and after another month’s leave in KY, went to his next base at Myrtle Beach, SC. Both of our homes there were on the lower level of small shared houses, but they were only 2 blocks or less from the Atlantic Ocean! I joined him there and was hired to teach school at Conway Elementary. He did have to go to a base in Louisiana for 2 weeks once, but everything was going great until he got orders to go TDY (temporary duty) back to Thailand. He left in October, 1972.

Since his group wasn’t supposed to return until April, but his date to be discharged was April 1st, they told him and another guy they could go back to the States if they could be ready to leave in 1 hour, so they did it! I didn’t even know he was on his way until he called me from California to say he was on American soil! I was so happy to know he was back safe and sound and even sooner than expected, but I told him there was a problem. An ice storm had hit SC and most of the south. Our electricity had been out for several days, schools were called off for the week, and I doubted he could get a flight anywhere near Myrtle Beach. He told me not to worry–he would make it. He did–3 days later after getting a flight to Atlanta, then taking a bus to North Carolina, then renting a car with 3 other GIs wanting to get home. Since he was the only one over 21 and able to rent a car, at least he got to drive while the others had to shovel snow and push the car out of drifts! They spent two nights sleeping on the floor of homes of two of the guys. Then, while I was watching the return of the POWs on TV, he finally knocked on the front door! My prayers had been answered!

Chester was discharged on April 1, 1973, and in June (after my school year was completed) we returned home to KY and he was finally able to get back to what he had always wanted to do–farm! He is still farming today, and we still live in the house where we moved in June, 1973, where we raised our three children.

As you can tell from my story, we spent our first three anniversaries and several Christmases apart, but we have both agreed that the years we spent while he was in the Air Force held many good experiences for us. We would move to a town, knowing no one but each other, and had to work together to find a place to live, a church family, me a job, etc. We had to learn to depend on each other and the One who always travelled with us and lighted our path.

So, on this Veterans’ Day, I want to thank my special veteran and all our veterans and current service men and women and their families who have sacrificed so much, and especially our God who has blessed us all so richly. May God bless America!
This entry was posted in Air Force, Chester McCauley, Thailand, Veterans' Day. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to

  1. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, Rose. And thank you, Chester, for serving our country with honor and courage. We appreciate you, and all our veterans, so dearly.

  2. Beautiful story, Rose, and thank you, Chester, for you service. You are one of my son’s heroes. He always had the greatest respect for Vietnam vets. (Thailand in this case, but it was still the same war.) God bless you.

  3. Out of 25 anniversaries, Don and I have been together on the day for six of them. But he’s proud to serve, and I’m proud of him for serving. (God bless America!) And tell Chester thanks for his service, too.

  4. Bradley says:

    Thank you and your husband for your service to keep this country great! I’m sure having him around for 40 years makes all of life since mean more. I had an uncle die in Vietnam 42 years ago and I’m proud of his service. I wish I had gotten to know him. But getting to know other veterans and hear their stories is comforting. God bless you!

  5. Caroline says:

    Rose, thanks for sharing such a wonderful story of love. Thanks to your beautiful (Yes, I said beautiful) husband for serving and fighting for freedom. Thank you, Thank you! WE love you, Veterans!

  6. Ramona Cecil says:

    What a lovely and inspiring story, Rose. Thank you for sharing it. I, too, want to thank Chester for his service to our country and you for the sacrifices you made while he served. You are such dear people. May God continue to bless you both as you walk daily with Him.

  7. Ellen says:

    Rose, I well remember those years. I remember thinking how hard it must be for you and Chester being apart and you being away from KY and alone for part of that time and Chester so far away. I think you have a very special “vet”. And thank you both for being “veterans” at marriage & an example for all to see of lives dedicated to serving our Lord.

  8. Karen Lange says:

    What a wonderful story, Rose! Many thanks to Chester and so many others who served and are serving in the military now. Their service is greatly appreciated. Blessings to you and your readers:)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Rose, Thanks for sharing your story about your veteran, your hero! You were living very close me in those years when you were at Myrtle Beach. I lived in NC about a 40 min. drive from MBAFB. I am married to an AF veteran too and I have a granddaughter in basic training righ now at Lackland. Thanks to Chester and all those dear ones who have served our country and secured our freedom at home and abroad. “Veteran” is a special word in our family! We honor them one and all.Ann Knowles

  10. Thanks, Rose, for sharing your story about your favorite veteran with us. And thanks, Chester, for your service to your country. It was fun seeing you at the book fair and meeting your veteran, Chester, there.

  11. Great story, Rose! Thanks for sharing. And thanks to your husband for serving our country.

  12. Anonymous says:

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