US ARMY, VIETNAM
Dan Whitacre arrived in the world in 1944, landing in Rudolph, Ohio. Born into a farming family that worked 250 acres growing oats, beans and hay, Dan learned his strong work ethic at a very young age.
He graduated from Westwood high school in 1962. He jumped into the workforce taking a job at Universal Crankshaft in Fostoria, earning one dollar an hour.
He met a young lady, Diane, a student at Bowling Green high school, one Friday evening when “the farm boys came to town.” They dated for two years until she finished school and were married on November 28, 1964.
They settled in Findlay as it was halfway between their jobs when Diane took a position at Marathon.
In 1966 Dan received his draft letter. He went to Ft. Benning, Georgia for basic, moved to Ft. Sill for AIT and to train in artillery. Dan became proficient of all aspects of aiming, loading and firing of 105’s and 8-inch guns. Upon completion of his training Dan was sent to Vietnam where he joined the 1/8th Artillery, 25th Division replacement group in Cu Chi.
When he answered yes when asked if he could drive a truck, an easy thing for a farm boy, Dan was reassigned to be a driver of a 8 speed, 5-ton wrecker in the HQ battery. His days were spent joining convoys distributing ammunition to firebases, where he would unload crates of artillery shells. When the trip resulted in overnight stays at firebases, Dan would often offer to take a turn on the night shift firing the 105’s to keep his skills sharp.
He felt lucky to be assigned to a hooch with a tin rook, a screen door and a cement slab the engineers had built. One of his favorite memories, for which he earned a reputation for creative thinking, involved a routine call to retrieve a broken-down Deuce and ½. After hooking up the Deuce and was enroute back to base he came upon a Three-Quarter ton truck, also broken down. This he hooked up to the back of the Duece. A little further on he met an officer who had put his jeep in a ditch. With his crane, Dan lifted the jeep, placing it in the back of the Deuce. He was quite the sight to see pulling back into his compound!
Dan, now an E-5 buck Sergeant, returned to the states in February 1968. He and Diane would move to Ft. Knox where he spent his last six months in the Army overseeing the motor pool of the armored division. Though the recruiter worked hard for months to get Dan to extend, he preferred to return to civilian life.
The couple set up home again in Findlay and Dan took a job at Atlas Crank Shaft. He would stay there working as a machinist for the next 30 years. When he retired at the young age of 49, Diane was quick to encourage him to find something else to keep him busy. He joined the team at Auto Zone, working inside sales and overseeing three delivery drivers for the next 16 plus years. Finally, at the age of 66, Dan officially permanently retired.
Dan and Diane, who celebrate 55 years of marriage, have three grown children, Dean, Drew and Danielle. They also have six grandchildren they love to spoil.