LIMESTONE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Imagine missing out on all the fun of your senior year of high school. One Limestone County man was set to graduate almost 65 years ago, but was called up to serve our country in the Korean War instead.
In 1948, Dale Casteel and 3 friends joined the National Guard as a way to earn some extra money, rather than working in the fields. It was in 1950, the summer before he was set to start his senior year at Clements High School, that he would be called up.
Casteel remembers being called to the armory in Athens with the rest of his company.
"We was in formation and they called us to attention and our company commander come out and he stood in front of us for about a minute before he said anything and then he said 'You are now active members of the military services and your training will begin immediately,'" says Casteel.
Just a few weeks later, Casteel was shipped to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for basic training. From there, it was on to Seattle before loading onto "The Marine Phoenix" and heading overseas to fight in the Korean War.
Casteel served 13 months in Korea. When asked what he regretted most about missing his senior year, he said basketball. Casteel even came back to Clements High in 1952 on his 30-day leave and asked if he could play in a basketball tournament that was happening.
The higher ups in Montgomery told him he'd have to commit to going to school for the last 6 weeks of the year to do that, something Casteel couldn't commit to because he was in the service and didn't know when he would be getting out.
"I was really disappointed because they wouldn't let me come back for 30 days. I probably learned more in Korea than I would have learned in my senior class. I learned the things that were important. You know, how you feel about this country, how you feel about freedom," Casteel says.
Casteel eventually got his GED, but never got the chance to hear his name called out at a graduation ceremony. Friday, that will all change. Clements High School will honor Casteel and the 3 other men from his class that left for the war alongside the class of 2015. The ceremony starts at 8pm.