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home : news : news Tuesday, May 24, 2016

11/9/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Representing three generations of service to their country are (from left) Kenneth “Kenny” Mickey Jr., who served in the Army 1966-1969 in Germany during the Vietnam War; Kenneth Sr., who served in the Navy for five years during World War II; and Kenny’s son Chris, who enlisted in the Army for three years and served in Operation Desert Storm. Chris said if given the chance, he would do it all over again and regrets not staying in the Army longer. Photo by Kate Howes
Mickeys make military service a family tradition

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

Three generations of Mickey men have served their country, one in the United States Navy, the other two in the Army.

Each one is proud to have fulfilled his duty to his country and believe he is better for having had taken that chance.

Kenneth Mickey Sr. enlisted in the Navy, after the Marines rejected him due to his color blindness.

"After that, I went straight over to the Navy recruiter and they took me," the Westwing resident recalls.

His son, Kenneth "Kenny" Jr., was drafted and was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam era. Although he wasn't given a choice in the matter, Kenny says he walked away a more mature and a bit wiser.

"I got a lot of knowledge and experience for the three years I was in," he relates. "It's definitely true what they say . . . you go in a boy, and you come out a man. It truly changed my life."

Kenny's son, Chris, caught his parents - or at least, his mother, Sharon - off guard with the news he was going to enlist in the Army after he graduated from Central Community High School in 1989.

"He just told us one day that a military recruiter was coming to the house to talk to us," Sharon relates. "I didn't want him to go. I'd heard of all these nightmares of things that could happen . . . as a mother, I didn't want him to be part of that. It was tough on us as parents to watch him do that."

Kenny admits he was shocked, too, but at the same time, very proud of his son.

"I told him to go for it," Kenny says.

Chris, whose dream always had been to farm, says he was influenced by both his grandfather and his father to enlist in the military and had no reservations about his decision once his mind was made up.

"For me, it was like a family tradition that I could keep going," Chris relates. "I liked the idea of serving my country the way my dad and grandpa had. I wasn't nervous at all. I wanted to see what it was all about."

While Kenneth Sr. was fortunate not to have seen any "action" during his five years in the Navy and Kenny Jr. saw a little bit, Chris saw more than his share in Operation Desert Storm.

He started out as a tanker, or member of the tank and armor unit, but then became a combat medic.

While Chris had a talent for his new duty, he was exposed to a lot of things as a medic; things that will stick with him for a long time to come.

"It was an eye-opener," Chris confesses. "It did teach me to appreciate the freedoms we have in the United States, as compared to people who live in third-world countries. We're able to drink clean water, while some of them have only salt water to drink. It made me thankful for my country."

All three Mickey men believe most young people could benefit greatly even from just experiencing basic training in the military.

After all, it could turn around the lives of youth who don't have plans for their futures and bring out valuable skills in young men and women they didn't even know they had.

"(The military) opens your eyes to what the real world is like," Chris notes. "Some aren't cut out for it; but it also can be where leaders are born. It has made me look at things differently. I don't take life for granted by any means. It builds character and respect for our country and other people. It's made me a better person."

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