THANK YOU VETERANS. To all our veterans—past and present—Mineral Area College thanks you for your unwavering service to defend our country and our democracy. As civilians, we cannot fully understand the selflessness required and the sacrifices you made to protect all Americans and our freedoms. To each of you, we indeed owe our livelihood and extend our respect and gratitude for your service and sacrifices.
A Voice for Veterans
“Like many guys, I enlisted in the Navy right after high school because we knew we were probably going to get drafted anyway,” explains Dwain Asberry. “After my basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Base, I was assigned to sea on the USS Boxer where I worked as a signalman responsible for transmitting and receiving communication via Morse code. Most of my service was in the waters of the Caribbean and South America. When our ship was de-commissioned, I was assigned to a land position as a staff unit driver for a commander. Then, for my final six months, I served in the combat zones of Vietnam. Soldiers who served in the combat zones earned significantly more pay than other positions and that sure was appealing. But, after dodging several rounds of incoming shells, I decided I would not re-enlist.”
Dwain aboard the USS Boxer.
After four and a half years in the U.S. Navy, Dwain returned home to Farmington and decided to take a chance on Mineral Area College. “Without the G.I. Bill, I could not have attended college. My biggest challenge was coming out of a war zone and then starting college three months later. Honestly, I initially started college just for the G.I. Bill money. I was also working 40 hours per week at the State Hospital,” says the Navy veteran. “MAC was indeed my transition period from the military to civilian life. The MAC faculty was incredibly empathetic towards military veterans. Barely graduating from high school and then attending college was quite a step for me. Without the small school feel and help from the faculty, I would never have been able to take the next step in my college career. I goofed around and graduated somehow.” Dwain received his AA degree in 1973 which built his confidence to attend Southeast Missouri State where he completed his bachelor’s degree in 1975.
“Gosh, 50 years is a long time ago to remember!” smiles Dwain. “The faculty cared about the students’ academic success and gave us personalized attention. All the faculty members were very nice to me. History was my favorite subject because Mr. Hampton’s teaching style made it interesting and kept my attention. I remember Mr. Powers taught Algebra and Miss Bloom taught Spanish. Miss Bloom went out of her way to try to get me to catch on to Spanish. I still can’t speak a word of it. Without empathy from those teachers, I probably wouldn’t have graduated.”
Dwain adds, “I learned some life lessons at MAC. Although I had discipline from the military, MAC taught me to pay very close attention in class. I had almost no time to study, however, learned early on that if my mind was on what the instructor was saying, and not daydreaming, I could pass the exams. MAC made me realize that nothing is impossible just as long as you give it your best and really set your mind to the goal. My impression of MAC, to this day, is top-notch. I’m proud of my two children—Amanda and Jeff—who are also MAC graduates. As a graduate and for everything MAC does for our area, I support the school financially. It’s a way to give a little something back to the school that did a lot for me.”
Dwain (right) and his son, Jeff, cleaned the military headstone of Dwain’s great uncle who lost his life in WW1 due to the Spanish Flu.
Following his SEMO graduation, Dwain thought he wanted to work as a counselor. “I didn’t realize how low the pay was! One day, a guy approached me about selling life insurance,” recalls Dwain. “I told him I didn’t know anything about insurance. That’s when he asked me what I would make as a counselor. Then, he offered to double it for the next couple of months if I would just try selling insurance. So, I took the challenge and sold insurance for 16 years.”
Next, Dwain took his sales skills to the auto industry. Area residents may remember him from Sam Scism Ford-Lincoln. “I enjoyed my time working at Scism’s. It was a good place to work, and I was treated fairly,” he says. “In 2015, I retired after 24 years—just in time for deer season!”
In retirement, Dwain volunteers to serve local veterans. He says, “I help our veterans’ organizations, mostly the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Farmington. I help run our Bingo program and pitch in where else help is needed. I am our Judge Advocate and serve on the Relief Committee which helps veterans in financial need. I’m a VFW volunteer for several reasons. First, veterans are like many other groups—teachers, non-profit organizations, groups serving the disabled—who need a voice in Congress. Membership in the veterans’ organizations gives us a voice and serves as a lobbying group with our elected officials. It’s an investment that helps our current as well as our future veterans. Plus, places like the VFW are gathering places where veterans meet and socialize with others who share common experiences. We run activities like Bingo as fundraisers to support the VFW Post as well as our local community.”
Dwain at the VFW in Farmington, MO.
Dwain admits, “I’m pretty much a home body. Time with my three adult children and two grandchildren is important. I enjoy the outdoors. I love to deer hunt, mixed in with a little fishing. In my leisure time, I enjoy travel, sports, kids and grandkids, volunteer work, hobbies, cooking and art.” Dwain invites everyone to the VFW on Thursday evenings to play Bingo.