PELHAM, GA (WALB) - WALB and Montlick and Associates would like to recognize the Heroes Among Us.
Each month, we will spotlight an active duty man or woman, a veteran, or a fallen hero-- whose service for our country goes beyond the battleground.
Larry Owen is a retired army major, whose leadership and dedication are truly admirable.
After serving approximately 23 years in the army, he continues to serve the South Georgia community.
"It was what I wanted to do. And as it turned out, it was the right thing to do," said Owen.
For Owen, serving this country runs in his blood.
"All the family had been in the Army," he said. "And it was right after the Bay of Pigs and all of that. I had watched my uncles get an education, and serve our country in the military, and retire."
Owen said he decided he would graduate from high school and follow in his relatives' footsteps by joining the military.
But he knew he had some learning and growing to do.
"I went in at 17. I was 5 foot 8, weighed 117 pounds. They told me I didn't weigh enough to open a T-10 parachute. So I did a lot of growing up. It took me two years to get grown," said Owen.
From then, he served nearly a quarter century in the U.S. Army, serving in the infantry the entire time.
"I went straight to Korea, served '63, '64 in Korea. '65, '66 Vietnam. '66, '67, '68 in Germany. Started out '70 in JOC in Panama Canal Zone. Then I went to Vietnam in '70 and '71. I got commissioned in Vietnam in '70. And I finished my career at Fort Benning, as Chief of the Leadership Branch of the Infantry School at Fort Benning," he said.
Owen fought in the battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam in 1965-- an extremely important battle for U.S. troops.
"We were among the first to have close combat with the North Vietnamese," Owen said. "A lot of people went over, and very few came back."
And despite the physical and emotional wounds from battle, which Owen did not want to discuss, he did point out the teamwork and the bonds he took away from war.
"There's something about that that puts you together," he said, "and bonds you together where it's closer than family."
And it's that family bond that Owen took with him after he retired from the military.
Now, he spends his days being there for his military family, whether it's spending time at his American Legion Post 144 in Pelham, sponsoring scout troops, or driving veterans to their doctor's appointments.
"That's what we're supposed to do. That's the way we were trained. You never leave your buddy behind," Owen said.
And Owen insists he is no hero.
"I'm not a hero. Heroes didn't come home. And in my unit, a lot didn't come home," he said.
He said he and all other veterans and active military don't do what they do for the recognition, they do it for their love for this country.
"When you go in the military, you take an oath," he said. "And part of that oath is that you will support and defend the Constitution. Well nobody's ever relieved me of that oath. So I take that oath seriously, and most veterans do. They're always helping other people. We just don't advertise it. We don't."
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