Page 15 - DFCS News Magazine Winter 2014
P. 15

DFC Presentation to Staff Sergeant Kevin F. Custer by Tony Ventura
On Tuesday, November 25th, I had the honor to present Ser- geant Kevin F. Custer a DFC in a shadow box on behalf of the DFC Society.
SSG Custer is with the Army Aviation 160th SOAR based at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. SSG Custer’s DFC citation is classi- fied.
The event was held at the American Legion Hall in Man- teca, California. Many of Kev- in’s family and friends came in from several states to honor and celebrate with Kevin.
Kevin’s family has a long tradi- tion of military service. Kevin was named after a cousin, Commander Kevin P. Dowling, who served with the U.S. Navy as a pilot. One of Kevin’s uncles is Major Gen- eral John K. Singlaub, U.S. Ar- my, Retired. “Uncle Jack” had a profound impact on Kevin’s beliefs and character. Kevin’s grandfather, Francis C. Dowling, served in the U.S. Army, worked on the aircraft for the Berlin Air Lift and is
himself a private pilot. Kevin’s grandfather and father, Cody, were outstanding mentors. Kevin learned a strong work ethic, great fortitude, integri- ty, loyalty and love of God, country and family from them.
Kevin has served in the U.S. Army for twelve years, enlist-
ing shortly after his 18th birthday. He was inspired to fight the war on terror- ism because of 9-11. Kevin believes that he is “fighting for America and freedom” and “fighting for people that can’t fight for themselves”. Kevin has been on numerous mis- sions and received many other medals and awards besides the DFC.
It was such a warm and friendly group in attendance that I was inspired to speak about my own Vietnam expe- riences. I showed the group my original DFC with 2 OLC’s, presented to me in Vietnam in May, 1967, by MG John Hay, Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division. I ex- plained that after I returned from my second tour in Vi- etnam and was discharged, I put all of my medals, awards
and military records in a bottom drawer of my dresser. I wanted to forget about Vietnam and the sacrifices of many young soldiers. The press had por- trayed Vietnam Veterans as “druggies” and “baby killers”. I attended a liberal college in New York City and could not mention that I was a Vietnam Veteran without getting into a heated argument.
Fortunately, times have changed and the country has learned to appreciate the cour- age and sacrifice of the brave young men and women serv- ing in the military and their families. Kevin’s wife, Melissa, and mother, Erin, know both the pride of Kevin’s service and also the concern for his safe re- turn from hazardous missions. Kevin’s son, Blake, 2, and daughter, Kenadee, 9 months, only understand that they miss Kevin when he is away on a mission.
Staff Sergeant Kevin F. Custer represents our next generation of leaders both for our country and military organizations such as the Distinguished Flying Cross Society. We thank him and the thousands more serv- ing in our military.

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