MOUNT VERNON — From their family history of military service, Dan and Teresa Shaw both hold a deep appreciation for country and fellow veterans.
During the Vietnam War, Dan was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as an infantryman.
“My unit went over in November 1966 but because I already had a brother there, I had to come back,” he recalled. “When my brother came home in December 1967, I rejoined my unit that following January.”
Dan grew up in Centerburg with four other brothers, all of whom serviced in the military.
“Only two of us made it to Vietnam. I was wounded the first time in May 1968 and I was wounded again at the end of my tour in September 1968,” he said.
When Dan came back to the U.S. he taught at parachute school and ranger training before his honorable discharge in 1969.
“Prior to me getting out, I joined the Disabled Veterans and I’ve been a lifetime member for over 45 yeas,” he said. “For a while I wasn’t very active in it.”
It was years later, after his move back to Knox County, that he became actively involved with the local post and started attending meetings. Before long, he joined several other veteran organizations in the area. “But it’s more than just staying active, it’s helping my fellow veterans,” he said.
After graduating from Highland High School, Teresa had no problem joining the U.S. Navy in 1979. Many members of her family served in the Navy, growing up on their stories encouraged the young farm girl to find her sealegs.
“I did my boot camp in Orlando, Fla., and then I was shipped to Point Loma, San Diego, and stationed on the ship USS Dixon which was a submarine tender,” she said. “I was in the deck department and worked with and maintained small boats and cranes.”
Teresa served during a time in American history when many changes were happening in the military. Women were no longer held to the positions of administrators or nurses. The doors were opened for servicewomen to work right along side men.
“At that time we were the first batch of women allowed on tenders which were non-combat,” she said.
As traditions were being broken and new ideals formed, females in the military had many obstacles to overcome, said Teresa. “American society was entering a whole different realm.”
Having been a part of that time in the nation’s history, Teresa said she feels a sense of pride in having to push women’s equality forward.
“The women who served as nurses and administrators were like a stepping stone for my generation and my heroes. By the time I came up, I was the next level and a lot of things were opening up for women. I was at a good time for a change. When I went in we were working directly along side the men. We ate alongside them, we worked alongside them, and the only thing we didn’t do was sleep in the same barracks,” she said. “Now the women have gone another step further and are in combat.”
Teresa was honorably discharged from the military in 1982. Years later, her curiosity of local veteran organizations got her to quickly sign up with the Mount Vernon AMVETS. But she didn’t stop there, the warm welcome she received from local veterans encouraged further participation in other groups.
“I have a hard time of saying no,” she said. Now she participates in assisting and visiting sick veterans, helping those in need, supporting veteran families, and teaching the youth about the pride found in being an American.
“We just want to make a difference,” she said.
Dan is a member of the Knox County Veteran Service Commission Board and the Purple Heart Ohio chapter. Both he and Teresa are lifetime members of the American Legion Post 460, members of the Knox County Joint Veteran Council, the Mount Vernon DAV 143 and the Patriotic Memorial Committee.
Through their participation, the Shaws are able to reach out and touch the lives of veterans and their families, to promote Americanism, and to support the United States and their community.