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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Tim Nance

Veteran Top Box

Raymond T. Nance's Photos

Tim's enlistment picture (1971). 

Tim shares his story at Wilkes County Public Library (2023).

Tim and his wife, Maebelle (2022).  

Tim at drill sergeant school (1985). 

Tim's squad and gear on display in South Korea (1979).

Sand bags used to protect a village from monsoons in South Korea (1971). 

Tim and his squad in South Korea (1979). 

Picture of the 2nd Engineer Battalion Coin. 

Tim's helicopter rappel training in Germany (1972). 

Training maneuvers in South Korea (1979). 

Tim and his children on vacation after the Gulf War. 

Tim with his mother and sister (1974). 

Tim visits a monastery in South Korea (1979). 

Tim wearing his flag detail uniform (Fort Sill, 1971).

Members of Tim's flag detail squad (Fort Still, 1980). 

Tim's complete flag detail squad (Fort Still, 1980).

Tim and his flag detail squad folding the U.S. Flag (Fort Still, 1980). 

Tim and his wife at their wedding (Wilkesboro, 1980). 

509th airborne infantry wall plaque (Germany, 1972).

Tim at the 509th airborne infantry (Germany, 1972). 

Tim captures a photo of his squad while jumping from a C-130 aircraft (Germany, 1973). 

Tim captures a closer shot of a trooper jumping from a C-130 aircraft  (Germany, 1973). 

Tim getting ready to load and jump from a helicopter (Germany, 1973). 

Tim at a training area in Baumholder, Germany (1973).

Tim beside his truck in Baumholder, Germany (1973). 

Tim while serving the company commander as his driver in Baumholder, Germany (1973). 

Tim and his wife at their wedding (Wilkesboro, 1980). 

The construction team Tim oversaw during his second tour in South Korea (1989). 

Tim looking at the demilitarized zone from South Korea. 

Tim at the company headquarters for the Bravo Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion in South Korea (1979). 

Tim captures a photo of his demolition practice at the demolition training zone in South Korea (1979). 

Rice paddies in South Korea (1979). 

A South Korean home (1979). 

Tim while preparing for Operation Desert Storm in the Saudi Arabian desert (1990). 

Tim skiing in South Korea (1979). 

In the evening, Tim while preparing for Operation Desert Storm in the Saudi Arabian desert (1990). 

Military equipment was shipped to the port of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, during the Gulf War (1990). 

A tank bridge being offloaded from ships in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia (1990). 

Tim and his comrades wait in the barracks for military equipment to be unloaded from ships (Saudi Arabia, 1990). 

Tim outside his track vehicle during the Gulf War (1990). 

Tim while washing clothes in the Saudi Arabian desert (1991).

Tim celebrating Christmas in the Saudi Arabian desert (1990). 

Tim sitting in his command vehicle (Saudi Arabia, 1990). 

General Schwarzkopf briefing soldiers before the

Gulf War. 

Tim prepares for the Gulf War in the back of a track vehicle at night (Saudi Arabia, 1990). 

A poster of Saddam Hussein Tim found in Iraq (1991). 

Tim featured in the Journal Patriot

(Wilkesboro, 1990). 

Tim poses for his E-6 promotion photo in South Korea (1979). 

Raymond T. Nance's Story (submitted by Sebastian Dionicio)

Raymond "Tim" Nance is a U.S. Army veteran. He served from 1971 - 1991 in the 24th Infantry Division and 3rd Engineer Battalion and was involved in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. Throughout his service, Tim served as a drill instructor, combat engineer, and operations sergeant during the Gulf War. He also received several honors, which included a National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal (5th), Korean Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Drill Instructor Medal, and an Overseas Service Ribbon.

Born in Asheboro, North Carolina, to Hazel Nance, Tim lived in Randolph County momentarily before moving to Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Brother to Joel, Marinita, Louis, and Melissa Pena, Tim attended Wilkes Central High School before enlisting in the Army in 1971 following his dad's and grandad's service.

In his early days of service, Tim received training as a motor transport operator, drill instructor, paratrooper, combat engineer, and rotor systems repairman for light aircraft. Following basic training, he served as a motor transport operator in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Tim mentioned receiving additional cross-training as a loader operator, attending drill sergeant school, and receiving specialized training as a Senior NCO Combat Engineer. He also recalled working with various equipment, including bulldozers, M16 rifles, M203 grenade launchers, M60 machine guns, and many radio systems (e.g., the PRC-77 Backpack).

When speaking about those training days, Tim expressed admiration for working on aircraft and traveling because he "enjoyed seeing new places."  However, he found building bridges under harsh weather conditions, memorizing manuals verbatim, working long hours following sleepless nights, and being away from his wife and kids for an extended period challenging.

Tim later reflected on his service during the Gulf War (i.e., Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield) following deployment in Iraq, arriving in a C-130 aircraft in August 1990. He recalled loading in buses with his fellow troops, driving to the port of Bahrain to unload military tanks and equipment, and riding in his track vehicle on a flatbed tractor-trailer through the Saudi Arabian desert after President Saddam Hussein of Iraq ordered his forces to invade Kuwait.

Highlighting the extreme temperatures he and his fellow troops endured while setting up camp (roughly 114 degrees Fahrenheit), Tim also reflected on his living arrangements and recollection of traveling amidst the scorching desert.

"We didn't have cots to sleep on," Tim shared. "Some guys tried sleeping on the ground. Many were stung by scorpions. They were sick for a few days after that," he added. With no choice but to sleep on top of his track vehicle, Tim was delighted to receive tents and cots to sleep on after a while. 

During this time, Tim also recalled his experience of running through the desert, approximately two to six miles on sand and rocks, coping with dust storms, often blowing in through his tent zippers, observing artillery units shooting down incoming enemy scud missiles, and wearing Mission Oriented Protective Posture, or MOPP, gear for extended hours.

Looking back, Tim shared, "It seemed like forever, but we were briefed on our combat mission. We packed up and were ready to move for over a week."

Tim and his comrades promptly set out for Jalibah Southeast Air Base in Iraq on February 25, 1991. Two days later, during the Battle for Jalibah Airfield, the 2nd Brigade, 24th infantry division, successfully seized Jalibah Southeast Air Base, heavily guarded by Iraqi soldiers.

When recalling that experience, Tim shared, "There was a lot of fierce fighting in front of us, but the Iraqi soldiers were overwhelmed by our forces. Days of light sleep and being on guard took a toll on all of us. We were tired. We were told it was over and started our trip back to the port to ship back home."

Reflecting on his recreational time, Tim remembered catching up on sleep, playing horseshoes with his comrades, reading letters he received from family and friends back home, and making, albeit restricted, phone calls to those he left behind (making two eight-minute calls in seven months).

When asked how his service in Iraq changed him, Tim explained how he "felt Duty, Honor, Country," the three-word motto of the United States Military Academy at West Point, "in a different light" after witnessing body bags lying alongside roads, the damage of blown tanks and buildings, and wondering if he would live to see his family again. He also cited "seeing boys turned to men, friends that have your back, and travel" as the highlights of his service experience.

Tim's service officially ended in August 1991 while stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia. Welcomed home by family, friends, and the community upon returning home to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, he later attended Wilkes Community College in 1993, where he received his associate degree in automotive technology and joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or VFW, for short. 

Sharing his final thoughts about his military experience, Tim reflected again on how those years affected his life, stating that he served in the military for his country, family, and friends and is a much better person today. He also urged the importance of "helping others for anything" when possible and concluded his reflection by emphasizing that "freedom is not free."