Patriot residents Wayne and Kathy Turner will be honored by the community this coming Tuesday as a part of the town’s 4th of July celebration.
The couple won’t be able to participate in the festivities on Tuesday due to Wayne’s health; but they will still be honored.
Wayne Turner is a lifelong resident of Patriot, the son of Curtis and Mary Miller Turner; and after attending Patriot School, he answered his country’s call to service and enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
“I went in the service in February of 1968,” Wayne said. “I did my basic at Fort Knox, Kentucky; and then I did my AIT at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Then I went from there to Vietnam.”
Wayne spent a year in Vietnam.
“I volunteered for the service,” Wayne said. “By volunteering I was in Vietnam when I was 18 years old. I had my 19th birthday in Vietnam.”
On his way to Vietnam, Wayne and his fellow soldiers first went to Anchorage, Alaska, and then to Okinawa, Japan. After spending some time in Vietnam, Wayne got a seven-day “R and R”, which he had the chance to spend in Australia.
Having completed his time in Vietnam, Wayne returned to this country by way of California.
“It was a bad thing, people throwing stuff at us and everything,” he said.
Discharged from the service, Wayne returned to Patriot; where he worked “anywhere I could get a job”.
“A lot of the big factories, being a Vietnam veteran, they wouldn’t even hire you,” Wayne said. “So I just picked up jobs wherever I could. I ended up working down at North Bend Farms for 16 years.”
He has also invested in the Patriot community, having served on the Patriot Town Board for 20 years, retiring from 2008. Son Wayne, Jr. carries on the family legacy of service, as he currently serves on the town board.
“I really enjoyed my time on the council,” Wayne said. “Everything you see here at the ball park, we accomplished when I was on the town board. The new shelter and playground, the basketball court; the bleachers, we did all that when I was on the town board.”
Wayne also was instrumental in obtaining grant money for the town that helped put the septic system in town.
“They said Patriot couldn’t get grants, they wouldn’t give them to us,” Wayne said. “Well, we got a grant for the sewer system; and also went to the Statehouse in Indianapolis and accepted a $460,000 grant we got for the water company.”
“There’s a lot of good people who live in this town,” Wayne said.
Kathy Turner grew up in Tennessee; and then moved to Muncie, Indiana with her parents, Kenneth and Josephine Ledbetter, and her 10 siblings, where he worked in a farming operation. That’s where he met Leroy Brammer; and when the Brammers moved to the Patriot area to run North Bend Farms, Kathy and her family also moved here.
“It was a whole different time back then,” Kathy said. “There weren’t any jobs in Tennessee, and Indiana was the land of opportunity, so we moved up here. I went to Patriot schools too.”
Kathy said that when Wayne was in Vietnam, she began writing to him because his sister, Sue, and she were good friends.
“When he came home, we got married,” Kathy said. “Our anniversary is the second of June. We were married in 1972.”
The couple has 4 children: Wayne, Jr. and his wife, Paula; stepson Josh England; son David and his wife, Bobbie; and daughter Amanda; as well as grandson Korey, granddaughters Kaitlyn and Shaylin Lack; and step grandson Briar Miller.
“We’ve got a group we’re very proud of,” Kathy said.
And she’s also honored that he town has chosen to recognize them.
“We are very honored,” Kathy said. “If Wayne’s health was better, we’d love to be even more a part of it. We love this town and the people. It’s a big honor for us.”