HINTON, WV (WVNS) — During different eras of war, fighting for your country was not a choice. At 24-years-old, Private First Class 3 Daniel Frazier did not have a choice.
“Well I got drafted in September of 1961, it was the biggest draft ever had during the Berlin Crisis,” Frazier said.
The story is a bit different for Retired First Sergeant Robert Bennett. For him, it was a choice he made. He was inspired to enlist after his friend Sgt. Mecot Camra was killed in the Beirut Bombing in Lebanon.
“I knew him really well, I went to school with him and said I would like to join the Marines so I went to Beckley to try and join the Marines and they said no so I walked next door and tried to join the Army,” Sgt. Bennett said.
While each man took a different journey to get there, both served their country with pride. Both facing terrifying moments, many times wondering if this moment would be their last.
“The first day when we got to Iraq the first scud missile was launched into our compound and when it did you could see grown people with tears dripping off their face,” Bennett said. “We didn’t know if they were chemical attacks or just scud attacks because Saddam Hussein always said he was going to launch a chemical attack on us and people thought it was our last day then.”
Frazier handled heavy equipment during his service, but his scares were different. He says even though he was ready for it during his service, he never saw any action. He says at 24, he felt more comfortable going into the draft than he would have felt right out of high school.
“I have to admit though one thing, it was a big draft and when we got down there, there was 5,000 people,” Frazier said. “Some of them with uniforms, some of them like me. I have to admit when I first walked off that bus if I had known which way to run I would have tuck off it was kind of scary looking.”
While their paths were different, one thing remains the same – a dedication to their country, and a willingness to do what was necessary to get the job done and protect their countrymen and women.
“I enjoyed my time in the military, I am proud of the service I did and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it again,” Bennett said.
“Right now if I had to, even though I am almost 85-years-old I would go, I would stand up for my country. I love my country,” Frazier said.
A reminder that freedom isn’t free.
Sergeant Bennett retired in 2005 after 23 years of service, and Private First Class Frazier served for two years and received an honorable discharge, he was also in standby alert for eight years.