By Nicole Shue
The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, Commander at the American Legion Post 587, its 2015 Veteran of the Year.
Young grew up in Gouverneur, about two hours north of Fulton. He had six uncles who were WWII veterans, but initially hadn’t given much thought to his own career path. That is, until a friend casually asked him to join the Air Force.
“We were at a county fair with our girlfriends and my buddy said hey let’s go sign up for the Air Force, I’ll pick you up in the morning,” Young said.
Young attended college for one year before starting basic training in San Antonio, Texas. From there, he attended a 12-week radar operator school in Mississippi.
Joining “Charlie Crew,” Young was a part of a 40-person team that controlled the border from a radar station in West Germany. At the height of the Cold War, searching the skies made for a highly strenuous job.
Young remembers the day his crew was put on high alert following the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
“I was in the barracks playing cards when the sirens went off,” said Young. “We grabbed our weapons and headed to the NATO Operations Center.”
Communication during the 1960s was much different than what it is in the military today.
“There were a lot of unknowns,” said Young.
It was a few days before his crew learned the details surrounding the president’s death.
Young returned home after three years in West Germany, and began working for General Motors. He retired from Goulds Pumps Incorporated in Auburn.
Young has held the title of Commander at Post 587 for the past five years. He is also the Service Officer for the Fulton Veterans Council. He is responsible for ordering the flags for the city’s local VFW and American Legion. The flags placed on the grave markers of veterans, laid to rest in Fulton’s seven cemeteries, are also Young’s work.
In his spare time, Young has also given people rides to the VA Medical Center for their appointments, and helped deliver Christmas gifts to the families of hospitalized vets.
Young was surprised at the honor of being nominated Veteran of the Year, having only been a resident of the county for a decade.
“There are a great group of veterans in this city. I wish that more of our community shared in our ceremonies for veterans,” said Young. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that place and those guys.”