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Tolbert served in the Guard for 23 years

VALLEY — Our Valley Times-News Veteran of the Week, Billy Tolbert, served in the National Guard for more than 23 years.

“I went in in 1956 and was there for 10 years,” he said. “I came out for a short time and went back in a second time. I served them for 13 years and three months.”

He was with A Company 167th Infantry, later with C Company 200th Infantry and with a combat infantry support company.

“We went to military bases like Fort Benning and Fort Rucker for training,” he said. “At Fort Rucker we trained with a tank battalion. We were trained to go to Vietnam (in the late 1960s) but were never called up.”

Tolbert said that he was proud of his service and that it had been a good experience for him. He’s now active with American Legion Post 67 and was at Monday’s Memorial Day program. He appreciates the fact the Post honored the 14 local men who died in the Vietnam War and was glad to see those who had served in Vietnam recognized at the program.

Tolbert retired from Fairfax Mill in 1999.

“I also worked at Riverdale Mill for a while,” he said.

He lives on 26th Avenue in the Langdale community. His brother, Bobby Tolbert, lives to one side and Mayor Le0nard Riley on the other.

“This time of year I love to garden,” he said. “I like to grow green beans, squash tomatoes, you know, what grows well this time of year. I used to do a lot of hunting with a bow, but can’t get around like I used to.”

Bobby Tolbert is a retired mechanic.

“He used to work on the big trucks for Walmart,” Billy said, adding that it’s good to have a brother close by, not to mention the mayor.

Billy and Bobby have a sister, Sue Hoppe, who’s a retired letter carrier.

Billy has wondered many times over the years how close he and the other men in his unit came to being called up to go to Vietnam.

“We were ready to go in but weren’t called,” he said. “It was during the draw down period, when more soldiers were coming home than going in.”