Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Old days recalled by Faught

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”
Rudyard Kipling,

“The Ballad of East and West”

If you’re taking the pulse of the community, you could check with Dewey Faught, the Air Force veteran and retired executive director of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce.

And if you want to know how to make friends and influence people, you could shake his hand, and he’ll look straight at you and beam his big smile and ask, “How are you doing today?”

If you do it just like Dewey does — big, booming voice, along with his big smile — you’ll make friends wherever you go.
Now, it helps if you grew up near Jonesboro in the Arkansas Delta and went to high school even deeper in the Delta down in Chicot County, before television made almost everyone talk and think the same.

Dewey and his wife, Jane, who is a native of Gillett (Arkansas County) celebrated their 50th anniversary a few weeks early last Saturday at the Mather Lodge at Petit Jean Mountain with 36 family members.

Last October, Dewey, who had been president of his high school class, had invited his classmates for a reunion at Petit Jean. That’s how he got the idea to celebrate his wedding anniversary there.

Dewey, 71, graduated from Eudora High School in 1953 and joined the Air Force in Greenville, Miss., right after high school.
He found himself in the Middle East for the next three years, delivering supplies on old C-47s.
“I enjoyed seeing that part of the world,” Dewey told us.

He served in the Air Force for 20 years and retired here as a senior master sergeant. He remembers every place he went to and every airman he worked with and every officer he served under.

“Lieut. Col. Parker C. Porter was the first commander,” he says. “I’ll never forget his name.”

“It was really an experience,” he recalls. “Flying over the Sahara — nothing but sand. All of a sudden, an Arab and his camel would pop up. There’d be old Roman ruins. It was interesting for an old country boy from Arkansas.”

Going to the Middle East was a lot different from the Delta, and it’s as if not much has changed in all those years.
“The main thing that has stuck in my mind is the difference in the way those people live and the difference in our priorities,” he tells us.

“When we unloaded in Tripoli, Libya,” he recalls, “there were 50 farm tractors. They sat there and rusted in the sun.”
“I saw something I’ll never forget as long as I live,” he continues.

The authorities had caught a teenager who had broken the law, and when they caught him, “they beat him to death with a rubber hose.”

“They didn’t want our help then,” he says, “and in my opinion, they don’t want our help now. A lot of our American boys are getting killed, wounded and ruined.

“I support them,” Dewey goes on. “I love the Air Force, but people in other parts of the world don’t understand what we’re trying to do. Their way of life is entrenched. It’s difficult to change them.”

He hesitates to criticize the war because his eyes well up when he talks about his country.

He’s grateful the Air Force let him serve for 20 years and gave him a chance to make something of himself and raise a big family — he and Jane have five sons and numerous grandchildren — and yet as he watches the casualties mount in Iraq — nearly 2,400 Americans killed and countless civilians — he says, “I don’t know. It’s pretty confusing to me.”

He’s not the only one who feels that way.
But if you see Dewey and Jane, wish them a happy 50th wedding anniversary.