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Our Hometown Heroes

Honoring our Cullman Veterans

Once a week, the veterans at the Cullman VFW post gather to swap stories and bond over their shared experiences. William Carter Sr and William Carter Jr are a father-son duo who, amongst other individual campaigns, served together in Iraq. They were in an engineering unit, in which they specialized in maintaining heavy equipment, pouring concrete pads, plumbing, and more. When asked about his deployment, William Carter Jr stated: “I was young— fresh out of high school. I was nervous and scared. But so thankful that my father was going to be there. I was ready to earn my stripes like everyone else did.” After serving in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, William Carter Sr retired, and William Carter Jr went on to serve in Afghanistan. William Carter Sr relayed the joy of coming home: “I was overwhelmed coming home. As soon as we passed New York, everyone started hollering and screaming.” Since becoming a VFW member, William Carter Sr has taken charge of placing American flags on the highway to honor local veterans and does other activities to aid the VFW’s mission as well. William Carter Jr now lives in Fort Worth, but visits the post for events and to support his father. 

Michael Schendil served in Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991. He started as a doctor working in various hospitals until he was assigned to the third armor division. There, he was part of a small medical unit, their mission being to tend to the troops’ general needs. He also did humanitarian missions and aided locals by providing them with medical supplies, food, and water. “The VFW is a good place to see friends and become part of a band of brothers. I am privileged and honored to be here.”

Steve Larson served as a Marine in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He was wounded twice in combat and earned two Purple Hearts for his bravery. “I enjoy coming here for the camaraderie and for the different guys I get to see. When I first joined, we had a lot of members who fought in WW2 and the Korean War, but they‘re all gone now. I was the Chaplin of the post for nine years, and ended up overseeing about 60 or 70 funerals for those veterans.” 

Robert Turner served as a Marine in Vietnam, starting in December of 1965. Turner was a crew member for armored personnel carriers, which carry about 26 people and 3 crew members. He traveled with units, standing guard and going on patrols. He was also wounded twice in combat and earned two Purple Hearts. “The post is like a brotherhood. Some of these guys I even went to school with. I like helping here at the VFW; we build a lot of ramps and decks for our handicapped veterans, and that’s really important.”

Riki Knight served in Afghanistan for two tours, one from 2003 to 2005, and the other from 2006 to 2007. He was attached to the infantry unit and went on patrols with them as a signal support specialist, working with radios and computers. “After serving, I’ve come to appreciate life a little more. I’ve realized that most remedial things are useless.”

Tina Herfurth served in Iraqi freedom for the Air Force in 2003. Her unit was stationed in Jordan, and she worked as an equipment mechanic. After working with the Air Force she switched to serving with the Air Guard. “When I got out of the military, it was tough to talk about it—I left with a bad taste in my mouth. But the post has really helped me revisit my time in the Air Force and feel proud of what I did.”