By Lasca Randels
SYRACUSE — Garry Ringler, Syracuse, was honored as Veteran of the Month at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting June 9.
Ringler was born Feb. 6, 1949, in Warsaw. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 1967, shortly after graduating from Syracuse High School.
After completing boot camp at Fort Polk, La., he was sent to Vietnam, where he served with the 1st Air Cavalry, 15th Transportation Company Battalion.
His duties included Greenline guard duty. The green line (perimeter) is the outer limits of a military position. The area beyond the perimeter belongs to the enemy.
Ringler described sitting on a bunker during the night with an M-60 machine gun, watching for enemy movement outside the perimeter.
His military occupational specialty was flight operations specialist. Ringler was in charge of directing helicopter flight paths to ensure efficiency in picking up and dropping off supplies and personnel.
He was also a door gunner on a UH-1 Huey helicopter.
Ringler said it was unnerving to be informed that the average life expectancy for a door gunner in direct combat ranged from 12 seconds to five minutes.
After serving a year in Vietnam, Ringler was honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist E5. At that time, he moved back home.
He married Karen Juday on Aug. 8, 1970, and joined her at Indiana State University where both earned degrees in speech pathology.
During that time, Ringler spent a year as 1st Lieutenant in the National Guard.
After graduating, the couple returned to Syracuse where they had three children: Matthew, Benjamin and Elizabeth.
Ringler spent 32 years as a speech pathologist and administrator at both Whitko and Wawasee School Corporations. He retired in 2006.
Sadly, Karen passed away in 2018.
Ringler’s three children and six grandchildren all live in the area, so he is able to see them often.
“One story that is always remembered by his children is that every time one of us would ask how many people he shot in Vietnam, he would always say ‘I was too busy hiding,’” Ringler’s son, Matt, said.
Ringler spends his free time collecting postcards, ice fishing and meeting “the guys” at the Syracuse Café for breakfast.