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Colfax veteran’s career stretched more than 40 years

Raymond F. Dutton is something of a special case in military history. While his situation might not be entirely unique, it is certainly unusual for two main reasons.

The first is the fact that he retired from military service at the age of 58. USAA, a financial company available to current and retired military personnel as well as their families, states that the average age of retirement for enlisted military personnel is 42, a mark that Dutton far exceeded.

The second is far more intriguing. When Dutton retired from the Air Force Guard in 1996, it wasn’t the first time he’d left the service. Nor was it the second. It was technically his third discharge from the United States Armed Forces.

To understand, knowledge of his upbringing is needed. Dutton’s father, always a passionate military supporter, was born too late for World War I. By the time World War II came around, he was the large family’s breadwinner.

Never having had the opportunity to serve he had always wanted, he tried to instill respect for the service in his children.

So, when Dutton was 17 and a senior at Rhinelander High School, he enlisted in the National Guard. His time with the guard was short-lived, however. Six months later, upon graduating, Dutton was released from the Guard so that one week later he could enlist with the United States Air Force.

Dutton held the rank of Airman Basic and he served as a tail gunner in the Convair B-36 “Peacekeeper,” a flying fortress that bore the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built at a massive 230 feet.

His time of service was thankfully quiet until his discharge in 1962. Dutton returned to civilian life, met his wife Anita Ann Dutton, and settled down to begin life as a family man. The Duttons had two sons, Francis and Bradley, both of whom currently live in Iowa.

When Dutton lost his job due to the plant he worked at closing in 1979, he knew that he couldn’t stay unemployed long. Thus, at the age of 40, Dutton enlisted in the Iowa Air National Guard.

While he may no longer serve in the military, Dutton continues to serve those who do and those who have.

He is an active member of the American Legion Jones-Willis Post 175 and the Hershel Briles AMVETS Post No. 50. Dutton was an active part of revitalizing his American Legion post after years of inactivity, and he enjoys taking part in all the community engagement events of each organization.

Despite having spent roughly a third of his life in the service, Dutton says he identifies as a veteran only after his roles as a family man and a man of God who belongs to the Orleans Church of Christ and attends the First Baptist Church in Colfax.

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