Local man served two stints in Navy Seabees, three tours in Vietnam

Looking back on his service in the U.S. Navy Seabees, Raymond Dismore said, “I was just a steel worker.”

It doesn’t matter if a person is on the front lines or behind the scenes. The work they do for the military is important and gives them equal rights to be proud of their service.

“He was proud to be in, and we were proud of him,” his sister, Glenda Greathouse, said.

“He’s very proud of that time,” one of his stepdaughters, Susie Lewis, said. “He always wears his hat, and everybody always stops and tells him ‘Thanks for your service,’ or other veterans, they’ll have a conversation or whatever.”

Dismore, 87, doesn’t like to share details about his service during wartime. He just did what he was drawn to do.

“I really don’t want to remember it too much. It was a hell of a place, I know that,” he said of Vietnam.

“He’s lucky he got out alive,” his wife, Betty Dismore, said.

Dismore grew up in Vallonia and graduated from Vallonia High School in 1953.

In June 1958, he enlisted in the Seabees, who are construction workers fully trained in defending themselves against enemy attack while building the infrastructure to keep the war effort moving, according to the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation. Since World War II, Seabees have been involved in supporting the country in war and in peace.

When asked why he chose to enlist, Dismore said, “Mostly because I was out of high school and didn’t have anything else to do.”

He was drawn to serve since his father and younger brother both were in the U.S. Navy. He completed basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, and then was based in Davisville, Rhode Island.

His first enlistment lasted through September 1964. Greathouse shared a picture of herself skipping along a deck in Rhode Island as her brother’s ship came to shore.

“You had your baby blue 1964 Thunderbird,” Greathouse said to her brother.

Dismore was out of the military until he decided to serve again. That went from July 1965 to May 1967, taking three tours in Vietnam.

In both of his military stints, he was a steel worker who helped construct a lot of the radio towers and butler buildings for the troops. The buildings were warehouses used by the military.

“It’s a great big building,” Dismore said.

Greathouse said her brother’s service ended during his third tour and he came home.

“Yep, I said, ‘I’m going home,’” said Dismore, who was a second class petty officer with Mobile Construction Battalion 6. “I had enough of that place. I decided I had enough of that uniform.”

Greathouse said she remembers traveling across the country with their parents and Betty to pick him up in California.

“Dad had a ‘64 Chevy Super Sport that I wish I still had, and I got a picture of his big old wood trunk. Dad had it sitting right on top of that car,” Greathouse said.

In July 1967, Raymond and Betty married.

“They were kind of seeing each other when he would come home for a little short time,” Greathouse said.

Betty was working at Brock’s Cafe in Brownstown, and Raymond often made his way there to see her when he was home.

Greathouse recalled one time when she went from their home to the courthouse square, there a carnival was taking place.

“He was down there (at Brock’s) seeing Betty,” Greathouse said. “He would give me a dollar to get rid of me, and that was quite a bit back then. You could do a lot around the carnival for a dollar.”

During Raymond’s time in the military, Lewis recalled Betty baking cookies and German chocolate cake and wrapping them up for Raymond to take back with him in Vietnam.

“You know how dry and bad it was (in Vietnam). He said he barely even got a bite of it. All of those troops there were grabbing it,” Lewis said.

Raymond remembers that.

“As far as the package was concerned, it was consumed almost immediately. I got very little,” he said.

“They wrote a letter and told him to keep up the good work,” Betty said, smiling.

Once he was back in Jackson County, Raymond got a job as a mail carrier for the post office in Brownstown. He and Bill Londot were the town’s first two walking mailmen.

“I covered half the town,” Raymond said.

He wound up working there for 20 years before retiring.

Then he and Betty spent time traveling, including being snowbirds in Florida in the winter.

“They sold everything they had, bought a travel trailer and never looked back,” their other stepdaughter, Gail Robbins, said.

These days, Raymond said about the only traveling he does is around the area spending time with family. He lives with Robbins in Underwood, while Greathouse lives outside of Brownstown, and Lewis lives in Paris Crossing. His son lives in Maine.