This column serves as a spotlight, highlighting the everyday people who work and live in Callaway County. The Fulton Sun takes a moment with someone who is not usually featured in the news but is just as instrumental in making the community the strong and beautiful place residents here know and love.
Larry Underwood has been the service officer for almost a year at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2657 in Fulton, after previously serving for seven years as the post's commander. Underwood was born in Fulton in 1949 and graduated from Fulton High School in 1967.
He then served in the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Infantry for two tours in the Vietnam War between 1967-70. After leaving the military, Underwood worked for 10 years for the Katy Railroad and then worked for 27 years for Laborers Union No. 662 in Jefferson City before retiring in 2004.
Q: What was your first job?
I was probably 19 and I worked for the Katy Railroad. I drove railroad spikes and helped rebuild the track, and I remember it being so hot. When they sent you for a 200-pound keg of spikes, they meant walk down there and get them, and bring them back on your shoulder. It's hard work.
Q: Who inspires you most?
(British prime minister) Winston Churchill, because if it wasn't for Winston Churchill, we would have probably lost the war (World War II). It was because of his hard-headedness and determination.
Q: What have you done that has been the most fulfilling?
Being in Vietnam a year and walking point (front man). It was dangerous, but you knew that if something happened, you did it. It wasn't one of those things where you were back in the platoon and got shot because of some other mistake. The point man sort of controlled the whole narrative.
Q: What is something you are proud of that you've been recognized for?
Being a man of my word. If I tell someone something, that's it. That's a quality a lot of people don't have now. I stand up for what I believe in.
Q: If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
I don't know what it would be, because I've done everything in my life that I wanted to do. I've jumped out of airplanes, I've walked point in Vietnam, I've got shot and I'm still alive.
Q: What is a job you wouldn't want to do?
Be a policeman because of the way they're disrespected and it's awful. We've got to have police and law and order.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Callaway County?
People will help you if you're a working individual and need help.