Honoring a lifetime of service
NEVADA, Mo. -- He's been in the Veterans of Foreign Wars ever since he was discharged from the Navy, 62 years ago and for the past seven years was extremely active. Now Chet Tweten has been honored by his peers at the 88th Missouri Convention in Columbia, Mo., for all that he has done for the VFW with the Missouri Lifetime Achievement Award for 2007-'08.
"I've been very active the past seven years. I've been commander for three years. Before that, I was chaplain for two years and I've been district commander for a full two years." Tweten said. "Back when I got out in '46 it was different and there was a lot of competition to get into the leadership positions like commander. I worked on committees -- most of the time it was the cooking committee."
Tweten accomplished a lot during his time as commander, the building was remodeled and painted and the heating and air conditioning was updated among other accomplishments. Tweten said he plans to take it easy now that his stint as district commander is over.
"I had nine counties and 17 posts with 2,200 members, that's a lot of people to help," Tweten said. "I'm ready to take it easy for awhile now. I'd like to see some younger folks get active. I've talked to some and basically said, 'Here's a building that's paid for and we have money in the bank -- come on and get involved and it will be yours,' BΩut they just aren't joining like they used to. Times have sure changed."
Tweten joined the U.S. Navy in February 1945, during World War II. He was sworn into military service on his 18th birthday.
"I had only been out of North Dakota one time in my life before," Tweten said. "Both wars were really raging at that time and it was really difficult to leave home. My mother was just panicking, I had lost a cousin in '42 in the war."
Tweten was an aviation electrician based in Hawaii and worked on Corsair and Hellcat fighter planes.
"The place I worked was about 20 miles west of Pearl Harbor," Tweten said "It was called a CASU unit, Carrier Aircraft Service Unit."
Tweten was modest about his activities during the war and didn't want anyone to think he was trying to inflate his experiences.
"It was just a job that needed to be done, just plain old routine work," Tweten said. "Nobody ever shot at me and I never shot at any body. A lot of guys have great stories to tell but I just did my job."
Tweten said at one time he was working on Ford Island, where the Navy docks were, and could see the superstructure of the USS Arizona sticking out above the water.
"I was within walking distance of the Arizona," Tweten said. "A fellow that lived a few houses down from me was killed on the Arizona and I looked and his name is on the memorial."
Tweten said he was kept busy but there was some time off.
"I went into Honolulu two times," Tweten said. "But that was about it. They always kept you busy."