Army Combat Engineer and a Pillar of the Community

Spread the love

Meet the Veteran: Gary Needham
Proudly sponsored by Ebner’s Custom Meats

By Dennis McNabb, Contributing Writer

Gary Needham Sr. was born and raised on a farm in Canby. Life was difficult in his younger years. His parents provided food, clothing and a roof over his head, but little else: no direction, no encouragement and nothing that even resembled affection. As he grew into adulthood, he developed a bit of a wild streak, which culminated in his arrest for possession of narcotics. He was given a choice, however: He could go to prison himself, or he could give up his dealer and “do time” by serving his country. He chose the latter, and it was a decision that would change his life.

Looking back on it now, Gary does so with humble gratitude and a desire to impress the lessons he’s learned upon the youth of today. He wasn’t a bad kid, after all, but simply someone who fell in with a bad crowd. For those who have had a similar upbringing, it’s a common occurrence, even if it’s not an excuse. Enlisting in the military, however, proved to be an experience that turned things around. It settled him, matured him, and he wouldn’t be the man he is today without it.

He enlisted in the Army in 1971. He attended boot camp at Fort Lewis, Washington, and advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Stationed there in Missouri for three months, he learned to become a combat engineer (building bridges and roads, among other things). From there, he was stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, and then Fort Richardson in Anchorage. He got out after two years and moved back to Oregon where he spent the next 25 years as a prison guard at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, working to help rehabilitate kids aged 12 to 25 in its Crisis Unit. It was his own experience as a troubled youth, combined with the interpersonal skills and discipline gained in the military, that provided him with the tools needed to be so effective in such a difficult position.

Gary Needham Sr. stands as a shining example of what we can become with a little support and encouragement. He is a pillar of the community. Warm, friendly and full of hard-earned wisdom, he is a man to be venerated. Proud of his time in the service, and grateful for the experience, he is humbled by the opportunities it provided. It took hard work and dedication, but in the end, it helped to transform him into the man he is today. If you see Gary around town, shake his hand, and thank him for his service.

Full-Service Deli & Retail Counter
Full Lunch Menu ∙ Order DoorDash

PLUS Fresh Local Meats
Custom Cutting ∙ Sausage Making
Complete Wild Game Processing

503.266.5678 • 272 N Grant, Canby