“I’ll be able to see Charles (McNeeley) banner on my way in everyday,” said his widow Debbie.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Charles McNeeley was drafted into the military at the height of the Vietnam War. Little did he know how big a role this move by Uncle Sam would play in his life.

The 1970 La Follette High School graduate was deemed to have acquired civilian skills that were needed during his time in the U.S. Army. McNeeley was assigned to carry out military burials and grave registrations primarily out of Dover Air Force Base at Delaware.

When there was a casualty, McNeeley was often on the detail. That would entail notifying the family and being with the family for about a week. Given the Vietnam War was not a popular war, the details’ reception was one of two extremes; you were resented or the family would cling to you, according to McNeeley’s widow Debbie.

“He would talk a lot about how happy he was to see soldiers from later wars get the recognition they deserved, because of how Vietnam Veterans were treated,” said Debbie McNeeley.

“He was very proud of his time in the military,” said McNeeley’s son Brent. “Once back home, it was working at the ambulance service for John Bond, then school and here, at Walters Funeral Home,” Brent added.

Brent McNeeley and his mother, Debbie, shared stories of their family hero, Charles, on Monday morning before Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1148 hosted its “Local Heroes” program.

“Dad was pretty much the small town success story from the military to business ownership,” said Brent.

“His service was the best thing to have happened to him. After his two-year stint was up, he was able to attend embalming school on the GI Bill; something his family could not have afforded,” said McNeeley’s wife, Debbie. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/16/2023-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF WLAF’S CHARLIE HUTSON)

2 Replies to “McNeeley, epitome of a veteran who was a small town success story”

  1. Charles McNeeley was a good man and a dear friend of mine. He helped me when I really needed help. He had a desire to help people. I still miss him. My son Jack worked for him for a number of years. Jack now works for Terry Smith at Cross-Smith funeral Terry Smith has been very good to me. Terry cares about people. Any Funeral director must care for people.

    1. Dr. Duncan, thank you for those kind words about my Dad. I was extremely fortunate to learn from the best funeral professional in town.

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