Lt. Col. Hadley Turner told more than 100 Fulton area residents Thursday night that his success as a command officer in combat was possible only because of the training he received growing up in Fulton.
The 92nd annual dinner honoring Callaway County veterans on Veterans Day was hosted by American Legion Kingdom Post 210 and VFW Post 2657 in Fulton.
A Fulton native and a 1977 graduate of Fulton High School, Turner said he is proud to be from Fulton and a graduate from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.
Turner said he went into the Army as an enlisted man and later became an officer after going to college. Still on active duty, he has been in the Army for more than 30 years.
Turner served as a combat officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.
At every step of the way, Turner said what he learned in Fulton was invaluable in the Army.
It all started when he entered basic training. He said the physical training was similar to what he underwent while playing football for Fulton High School football coach Bob Fisher.
"I'm proud to be an American soldier. The American soldier today is the best trained and best equipped in the world," Turner said.
Turner said he learned to keep things simple while in combat. When writing technical combat manuals, he said it's important that everything is easy to understand.
Turner said he learned leadership skills from fellow team members of his high school baseball team and also from coach Fisher.
Turner said his typing skills helped him advance in administrative duties in the Army. "That was possible only because my mother insisted that I take typing while I was in school in Fulton," Turner said.
While assigned to an artillery unit in the Army, Turner said the extra mathematics courses in high school were a big help to him time after time.
Turner said his high school golf coach taught him to mind his manners and to be a gentleman while on the golf course.
"That is a lesson that has been of tremendous help to me. So much has been accomplished on the golf course that has helped me advance in the Army," Turner said.
Turner said working at the East End Market in Fulton taught him a lot on how to function while working as a quartermaster in the Army. "I learned that you need to rotate the stock to push the older items up to the front to keep everything fresh," Turner said.
Turner said he participated in some special operations in the Army along with members of the Air Force and the Marines. "I was never scared while I was with Marines and the Air Force guys were also great," Turner said.
Turner said while he was in combat he frequently sent e-mails to his nephew. He said a teacher at Hatton School sent him a case of Ritz crackers and peanut butter.
Turner said his experiences with a person he knew growing up who attended the Missouri School for the Deaf helped him communicate with civilians in Iraq. Even though he didn't speak the language, he still was able to find ways to communicate, he said.
Before Turner spoke, the crowd at the VFW Hall was entertained by patriotic songs sung by Trigger Ragan. Cali Wright, the 10-year-old daughter of Liz and Robbie Wright of Fulton, sang "God Bless the USA."
David Beaver, post commander, said the dinner "is a great way to observe and recognize all veterans in Callaway County."