60-years of service earns Rogersville/Kingsport Legionnaire honor
KINGSPORT, TN - One veteran from the World War II generation has spent most of his life in the service of others. Dana Fields of Rogersville and Kingsport was honored on Tuesday for devoting 61 years of his life to the American Legion and the VFW.
At 91-years-old, Fields has given at veteran's memorial services literally thousands of times for decades. He keeps a photo album with programs representing 4,000 services he's performed during his lifetime.
"I'm a Christian person, and I think that's what the Lord wanted me to do," Fields said.
The Army and Air Force veteran started continued service with both the American Legion and VFW in Kingsport and Rogersville 61-years ago.
"I've never had my own life, I've worked, done things for other people," Fields said.
Fields said while his services followed guidelines, each one was different.
"I didn't stick to that too much, I did my own a lot," Fields said. "You have to kind of do what the family wants."
Many were difficult, but one in particular was the hardest.
"I buried my own brother, I did his service," Fields said. "That was one that stands out."
Now he's honored for his 60-plus years of service.
"Dana has contributed a lot to the American Legion as far as our programs with youth, our programs with veterans," said Raymond Hice, East Tennessee Vice Commander.
But Fields said he never did it for the honor.
"I just want to do these things for people," Fields said.
He said perhaps because he performed so many, he said he doesn't want a military service when he dies.
"When I leave this world, I'm going into another, and I don't need no uniform," Fields said,
World War II veterans are are dying at a rate of 372 vets everyday, and membership in the American Legion posts are dwindling.
According to the National World War II Museum and the Department of Veterans Affairs, 16-million served in World War II. Now, only 620,000 WWII veterans are still alive. That's less than 4-percent.
About 11,000 of those veterans live in Tennessee and about 13,000 live in Virginia.
According to the American Legion website, there are 2.4 million members nationwide who served in various wars. In East Tennessee, there are a little more than 2,500 members. That's 600 fewer than in 2015.