DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Raymond Matheson was a local Veteran that passed away last month.
Usually, he and his wife would attend the yearly Memorial Day Ceremony at Freedom Park, but this year will be different for his wife.
“He was a very special man to me, but he did serve in Korea, and three tours in Vietnam and he loved the military that was his first love,” Joyce Matheson said.
Ray and Joyce Matheson married late in life, but he would share all of his military stories with his beloved wife.
“He joined early, too early, and that’s when he said he turned 18 in a foxhole in Korea,” Joyce said. “Total, he served 21 years, but he kinda fibbed about his age to get in.”
Rays’ story is similar to other veterans that served in Korea and Vietnam. His health was affected by tactical use methods during a rescue mission he was on in Vietnam.
“He never complained about anything, and I know he was in a lot of pain and everything because he was exposed to Agent Orange over in Vietnam, and he had a lot of the disabilities that came along with that afterward,” Joyce said.
Agent orange exposure is known to cause a multitude of health complications including Heart Disease, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and much more. When Matheson passed away, his wife planned his funeral services with military honors.
“We had the service under the pavilion in front of the helicopter, the army was supposed to come but they couldn’t at the last minute; they were locked down I believe, and then Robert and his son folded the flag, and they did a beautiful job and that was presented to me,” she said. “The only thing I think we really missed was seeing the military uniforms.”
Matheson shared with us that while her husband loved the military, he will probably go down in history here as the donut man because he would bring everyone in town donuts when he would come to visit them.