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Ashe County Veterans History Project: Reggie Keys

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Reggie Keys's Photos

Reggie Keys's Story

Reggie Keys was born on September 14, 1947, and grew up in Fig, a small community located in the northern part of Ashe County, North Carolina.  His father was a farmer and his mother a housewife.  Reggie had two older sisters, Helen and Margie, one older brother Carl, aka Sam, and two younger brothers, Dewey and Bill.  Before entering the service he worked at Sprague Electric.  He was drafted into the Army in 1968 and was expected to be sent to South Vietnam after training.  Then Russia invaded the Czech Republic and his orders were changed to Germany. 

Reggie's basic training began at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and he later trained in Fort Polk, Louisiana.  The hardest part of training was the long walks through sand on hills.  "It was not easy climbing sandy hills while wearing heavy combat boots."  It was also a big challenge to carry another man for 100 yards.

It was the winter of '68 when he found himself in Germany, not far from Munich, as part of the third armored division.  While in Germany, Reggie was sent to communications school.  He remembers spending a majority of the time shoveling snow in the mornings and attending classes in the afternoons.  He spent two Christmases overseas and it seemed to snow constantly!!!   

Reggie also loved to relax with a good western novel.  "Reading helps to get your mind off of things, like missing home and military stress."  It was during his time in Germany that he discovered Louie L' Amour, when he found a copy of Daybreakers at a little bookstore.

After finishing his service time, Reggie flew back to the states in April 1970, and a family friend, Tommy Rash, picked him up from the airport. 

Reggie says, "After serving you have more concern for your country and for the most part, the experience changes you for the better.  You don't come home the same.  You're more mature, you have stronger patriotic feelings." 

"I am glad to have went.  The U.S. needs a strong military. ... You realize how important this is when you visit another country, it is something you have to have.  It was an honor to serve and after this experience I am more sensitive to criticism of those in service."

Today Reggie is actively involved in his community.  He serves as a volunteer board member for Riverview Community Center and is a member of the Riverview Lions Club.