KINGSPORT — Rogersville native Dana Fields served his country in Europe during World War Two and then continued to serve his returning brothers and sisters in uniform for more than six decades after his war ended.
On Tuesday, Fields, 91, was honored for 61 years of continuous service in the American Legion.
Fields fought in Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. He later served as American Legion post commander at Post 21 in Rogersville and Post 3 in Kingsport as well as an American Legion district commander.
He was also a member of the honor guard and burial details and helped lay to rest more than 4,000 veterans and their spouses.
The “60 Year” recognition was presented Tuesday at Fields’ Kingsport home by Ray Hice, the American Legion’s East Tennessee vice commander, and Dave McCally, Rogersville Post 21 adjutant.
Fields, a lifelong resident of Rogersville, recently moved to Kingsport to be close to his daughter, Connie Rogers.
“I love the service,” Fields said. “The best thing in my life is service. I always wanted to serve, and I always wanted to do something for people. That’s the only reason I can give you. I just wanted to do these things.”
Hice noted that Fields has actually reached the 61 year mark, but the American Legion bestows continuous service awards only at the end of each decade. That’s why Fields’ award Tuesday was for 60 years.
“It’s a special honor because Mr. Fields is a World War Two veteran and he saw fit to join the American Legion 61 years ago, and he stayed with it.” Hice said. “The only reason somebody stays with it that long, or longer, is the fact that they’re committed to what the American Legion does. They believe in what we do. They’re excited about what we do. We’re proud of his membership. There’s not a whole lot o people who reach that mark, as far as membership.”
Fields noted that Post 21 used to be the largest in the state with more than 1,300 members.
“You and I both have done a lot of work for the American Legion and Post 21 down there,” Fields told Hice during Tuesday’s ceremony. “I’m proud of the work that all of the members of that post have done in our time to keep the Legion for the boys who are coming out of the service now. It would be good if we could have everything back like it was at one time.”
Hice noted that the next milestone is 70 years.
“I could make it,” Fields said.