The den in Sheldon and Shirley Vincent’s home on the west side of Devils Lake is a virtual museum of artifacts from Sheldon’s years in the military.

The den in Sheldon and Shirley Vincent’s home on the west side of Devils Lake is a virtual museum of artifacts from Sheldon’s years in the military.
Hanging on the walls are shadow boxes proudly displaying his medals, patches and uniform jacket. On a high shelf above there’s a styrofoam head wearing his green beret.
Although he’s got his physical challenges these days, his memory is still pretty sharp for an 83-year old.

His story begins when his family lived in the Brinsmade area. They had moved around a great deal, Vincent recalled, but they were living in Brinsmade when he enlisted in the Army.
He said, “Everyone was expected to serve, if they could serve. 95 percent did and looked forward to it.”
He was 17 years old at the time, 128 lbs and 5’6’’ tall, ready to go. He was motivated by the knowledge that his older brother, Perry, who had enlisted a few years earlier, was a prisoner of war in Korea by the time he enlisted.

Sheldon went to Hawaii for basic training and Combat Leadership training, then off to Korea.
He made it home to the U.S. on the 4th of July, 1953, and ended up in Ft. Lewis, Washington for orientation after volunteering for the special forces. He was 19 years old by then and off to parachute school.
Somewhere in there he went back home to North Dakota for a visit and says he met this freckle-faced girl from Brinsmade named Shirley Guffey. They made it official in 1955.
From Washington he went to Fort Bragg, NC for further training in special forces after finishing jump school.

As a combat vet, career soldier and non com., Vincent was one of the first few in the special forces, that would become later known as the Green Berets.
Each team had a dozen members; two who specialized in weapons, two in demolition, two medics, two in intel., two officers and two in operations. Most were cross-trained in each others’ specialties, just in case. “We were supposed to have a rudimentary knowledge of what the others did, so we could step in and help out if we were needed,” he explained.

When he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Shirley went with him.
Sheldon is quick to point out that spouses serve their country, too, but they often don’t get the credit they deserve for their sacrifice.
After OCS (Officer Candidate School) he became a commissioned officer in February of 1962.
He served with the 82nd Airborne in the Dominican Republic and did two tours in Vietnam before he retired as a Major in 1973.
“I’m proud of being able to serve my country,” Sheldon states.

While in Korea and southeast Asia he said they saw terrible poverty.  It was especially difficult to see the starving children. There were orphans everywhere. He’d write home about it and his family back here in the states would share his stories with their friends and neighbors of Devils Lake. They stepped up, he said, and gathered things that were needed and sent packages of supplies and toys back to the orphanages and the needy children of Korea and later Vietnam. He said at the time the Devils Lake Journal did stories about their generosity and giving.
All the Vincent boys served in the military; Sheldon’s brother James, the eldest, who is 91 years old; Perry, who had been a POW in Korea, did get released, but is now deceased; and their younger brother Everett served 10 years in the U.S. Marines, during peacetime. He, too, is now deceased.

The Vincents and their grown children Sheldon, Cindy and Dawn, seven grand children and seven great grandchildren, recently celebrated their 62nd anniversary.
Continuing a long legacy of military service, their son, Sheldon, also, served in the military for seven years as a paratrooper.