Meade County Veteran of the Month - February 2016


Mr. Paul Speed: From Union Center 

Service years: 1966-1968

At the age of 20, Mr. Paul Speed was drafted into the Army into the supply career field. He completed basic training at Fort Lewis Washington. Fun fact: Fort Lewis had been closed as a training facility since the end of the Korean War, until it was reopened in 1966 as a personnel transfer and training center for the Vietnam War. From there, Mr. Speed was sent over to Dugway Proving Ground for in Utah for additional training.

His initial orders were to work as a veterinary technician because his reputation as a “farm boy” preceded him. Unfortunately, the position was filled before he arrived, so he found a new position within the hospital working in one of the wards. Eventually, he was transferred to Medical Supply. 

Shortly thereafter in June 1967 he was called up for a year-long tour of duty in Vietnam. He worked in communication supply as a clerk under the Unit commander.

Mr. Speed remembers an interesting story from his time in Vietnam: he and another soldier were driving a military jeep over to another unit to see a band perform. They parked the jeep and saw a great show. Afterwards, they went back to where they had parked the jeep… to find that it wasn’t there. It wasn’t anywhere, in fact. To this day, no one has any idea where that jeep ended up. The two were able to hitch a ride back to their post to answer the question of how- exactly- one loses an entire jeep. The silver lining is that Mr. Speed learned an invaluable lesson that he will never forget. Nor will he ever forget the exact amount of how much a jeep is worth in 1967: $2,580.00.

Mr. Speed has been awarded the: 
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Sharpshooter (Rifle M-14)
Good Conduct Medal 

In 1968 Mr. Speed was honorably discharged and he came back to South Dakota to the family ranch. He would go on to meet his wife while studying to be an elementary school teacher. The two got married in July 1970. After his schooling, Mr. Speed picked up work managing a ranch from 1972-1981. During that time, his daughter Lana was born and then his son Ryan a few years later. In 1981, the family moved to Union Center where he farmed and ranched until 2005 when he retired.

Even after retirement, he stayed busy working at the Sturgis Livestock, Cammack Supply, running a few cows, working as an auctioneer for fun, and assisting a neighbor in the feed business. Even though his name might not suggest it, Mr. Speed does find time to slow down and enjoy a good cup of coffee in Union Center. He enjoys hunting and fishing, but more than anything, his true love is spending time with his family, and also his 2 grandchildren.