In September of 1946 James Edward Duke, enlisted in Company C 153rd Infantry in the National Guard in Prescott, Arkansas at the young age of fifteen. At that time, this company was not recognized by the Federal Government, but was recognized in November 1946 when he had just turned 16 years old.
Knowing nothing about military life when he enlisted, Duke quickly learned what it meant to be in the service and was promoted to Staff Sergeant at just seventeen. “We would meet every Tuesday evening and march around the streets of Prescott,” Duke said.
Duke believes he is the only Colonel that never went to boot camp, yet went on to serve our great country in the Korean Conflict from 1954-1958, as well as in the Vietnam War, 1963-1965. “In 1946 I was a 16 year old grunt and November 9th, I will be a 90 year old retired Colonel and I loved every minute of it.” Duke said.
“The service served me,” Duke said when asked to describe his time in the service.
He talked about the GI Bill and being a navigator in the Air Force Reserve and how it was instrumental in his education. “I never would have been able to pay for my training in dental school. I enjoyed dental school and finished first in my class,” Duke said.
Now a retired dentist, Duke believes he may be the only surviving member of this particular Infantry, saying, “I had no idea I would be the last living member of Company C when it was federally recognized in 1946. If there are any members still living I would love to hear from them.”