Veteran of the Month: Neil Early
By Joyce Ervin
Neil Early couldn’t find a job after graduating from Milan High School in 1961. So, he believed the recruiting officer that said they would train him for a trade. He joined the United States Air Force and found himself in the 821stCombat Defense Squadron as an Air Police.
After serving one year at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, he came home and married his bride, Marion of 55 years. She joined him South Dakota. The couple had three children, Bryan, Tracey and Kim.
Early said he had to keep the men in line, but he never had to arrest anyone for a serious crime. He said he enjoyed being in the Air Force, “It taught me discipline.”
Though he never saw combat, he was ready and was called to the base where he said all of the B-52 airplanes were readied for the Cuban Crisis. The country was ready to go to war, but President Kennedy called off the mission.
After leaving the service as an Airman 1st. Class, Early worked for Cone Elevator for 10 years before re-training for a position with Ford Motor Company. He wired equipment there for 16 years and then retired.
He built his home on Hickory Road a few houses from the family farm where he grew up. When asked if farmer could be added to his resume, Early shook his head and said his dad was the farmer.
Working with his hands seems to be one of Early’s specialties. His home is well constructed and filled with crown mouldings that are cut and fitted at perfect 45-degree angles.
He and his wife are members of Immaculate Conception Parish in Milan. Early is a soft-spoken, pleasant man and, as with all of our veterans, a Milan hero.
Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan. She can be contacted at: jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.