APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Frank Billings grew up in a family with generations of military service.
His father was in the Army during WWII, so when Billings wanted to join the Marines at 17 in 1966, there was only one option.
“I got the information, and I brought it home to my dad and I said, ‘Dad, I need you to sign this.’ And my dad looked at it and he read it, and he goes, ‘Oh, so you want to go in the Marines aye?’ He slid it over to me and he says, ‘Come back to me when it says ‘Army’ and I’ll sign it,'” Billings recalled.
So naturally, Billings joined the Army instead.
“Each one of us, my three brothers and myself, we all went into the Army for respect to my dad. Plus, to serve our country because that’s what we grew up with,” said Billings.
Trained as a supply specialist, but too young to be sent to Vietnam, Billings was stationed in Korea for 13 months. Though he wasn’t alongside his comrades in Vietnam like he had hoped for, Billings did as he always does.
“I fell right into it; I just went and did it. If you enjoy what you’re doing, then you don’t think about what it was like,” Billings said.
And Billings still lives by that motto; Enjoy every day.
But for a long time, he was held back from that. Like many other Vietnam-era vets, Billings didn’t talk about his service. But his outlook on life helped him to change that.
“This is my philosophy: ‘Dinosaurs used to walk the earth, they don’t anymore because they didn’t change.’ And, if I don’t change, I’m going to be in the same predicament. So, I changed my whole life around and decided life is what it is, I’m just going to be happy the rest of my life,” he said.
These days, Billings does that by staying involved with different veterans’ groups, like Vets and Friends in Appleton, where he’s a board member.
He comes every week, helping to serve hot meals and conversation to other veterans.
Because as Billings says, the key to a fulfilled life is to continue serving.
“Every day that you can put a smile on somebody else’s face is a good day, and that’s how I live my life. Be happy, life is too short not to be,” he said.
To learn more about Vets and Friends and how you can volunteer, visit this page.