In honor of their service: Veteran Byron Schriever

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Meet The Veteran: Byron Schriever
By Dennis McNabb, Staff Writer
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A photo of veteran Byron Schriever in uniform

It’s easy, in a cynical world, to keep our heads down, hands-in-pockets, and ignore everyone and everything around us. We often struggle to simply acknowledge those we pass on the street, even our neighbors, and it’s a shame. Canby is teeming with real people who have real stories to tell; compelling stories of genuine heroism; people like 93-year-old US Army veteran Byron Schriever.

If you are not fortunate enough to count Byron and his wife (of 70-plus years) Dorothy as friends, do yourself a favor next time you see them in town, and take a moment to become acquainted. Born and raised right here in the Portland Metro area, Byron graduated from Molalla High School before going on to Oregon State and entering the ROTC program. During his junior year, the Korean War began, and he was drafted into active duty.

Byron was deployed to Korea in January of 1954, entering the war as a Combat Engineer assisting with the movement of infantry and artillery units on the battlefield. His team breached obstacles, constructed bridges and roads, and swept mine fields, among other things. One particularly sobering moment came just after his arrival when he was shown a large hole in the ground — the spot where his predecessor had been killed after attempting to disarm a mine.

Following his tour in Korea, and after satisfying his active duty obligation, Byron commendably chose to reenlist. He came home briefly, at which point he married Dorothy, and was then stationed in a variety of different locations across the country for training, maneuvers, and finishing his degree. He then spent some time teaching Combat Engineering in Washington D.C. before being sent to Verdun, France (where his father had coincidentally been stationed during WWI).

A black and white photo of veteran Byron Schriever in uniform

Returning to the States, he worked as project engineer on a ballistic missile site for a couple of years before attending Senior Officers School in Fort Leavenworth. From 1967-1970, he served as Staff Officer at The Pentagon, and was then sent to Vietnam. Serving first as Commanding Officer of a construction battalion and later as Commanding Officer of a combat battalion, this was where Byron was closest to “the action.” Although the majority of his work was done in the demilitarized zone, there were constant ambushes, and everyone had to remain on high alert.

After the war, Byron spent 18 months in Fort Knox leading a team who tested new engineering and equipment before finally returning home to Oregon. He spent the remainder of his time in the Army as an advisor to the Oregon Army National Guard, and retired in 1974. So, for 20 years, this gentleman bravely and selflessly served his country, all while somehow managing to earn a degree, maintain a healthy and loving relationship with his wife, and raise four children!

Looking back on his legacy, Byron stated he wouldn’t change a thing. He was proud to serve his country and for the vast majority of it, enjoyed his time. Applying the skills he obtained in the military, Byron went on to have a second career (another 18 years!) as a civilian, working with the Oregon Army National Guard. So, even after “retirement,” he continued to serve!

When people say, “They don’t make them like that anymore,” they are talking about people like Byron Schriever. Intelligent, resilient, stoic, and humble, he is a man whose unwavering determination and grace shine like a beacon of inspiration for the rest of us. Next time you see him in town, take a moment to shake this gentleman’s hand, and thank him for his service.