Meet local veteran Marion Light

Hannah Swayze • Nov 11, 2018 at 9:26 PM

Like many young men during the Vietnam War, Marion Light realized he was probably going to be drafted into military. He became eligible for the draft toward the very end of the war and decided that instead being drafted, he could just enlist. 

So in 1971, Light joined the Army. He served for a little over a decade in a variety of jobs stateside, then continued his life back home in Fall Branch.

Today, at age 67, he is retired from Kingsport’s Eastman Chemical Co. and serves as chairman of the town of Jonesborough’s Veterans Affairs Committee. Light spent his Veterans Day Sunday hosting the Veterans Day Concert at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, something he’s been a part of for 19 years now. 

Q: Why did you join the military?

A: Well my dad and his two brothers and my brother were military and I thought that’s just my job. That’s just part of what you do, so I did. I thought I was going to get drafted and that’s when they did the lottery and my number when I turned 18 was 360. When I turned 19 it was 110. They quit drafting at 105. But I was already in basic (training) at that point. So it’s just, to me, something you do. Something that’s part of you, part of your family. I wish there were ways for everybody, especially young men, to serve at least two years in some kind of service to the country. I think they owe the country that. Women, too, if they want to. Of course I’m old school. To me, you owe this country something.

There is no other country that is like this country. And that offers you the opportunities and freedom this country offers.

Q: What was your job in the military? What did you do?

A: It was a little bit of everything. Mostly, I drove. I was a driver. I drove a 5-ton cargo (truck) and stuff like that. I was a driver and I was in an engineering unit but I was there on the last maybe six-seven years or so. Maybe longer. I transferred over to a transportation company.

Q: How did your time serving affect your life?

A: I think it teaches you to adapt. Whatever condition you’re in you have to adapt. If you cant then you’re in trouble. But I really worked on adapting. 

Q: Why is it important to celebrate Veterans Day?

A: I think that, of course, Veterans Day itself is 100 years old today. And it began as Armistice (Day) and I mean, they had not been involved in a war so tragic as (World War I) was. I mean, nobody had ever seen anything like that. I mean the Spanish-American War was just a blip is all that was. Of course, we went through the Civil War and all that but it still was not what World War I was when gas and things like that were thrown on people, mustard gas, and people just getting completely annihilated by shells and things like that. Living in bunkers and trenches. ... We were called on to rescue the rest of the world, in my opinion. 

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