Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 9, 2013

Disabled vet hopes for help from PV

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The story is a painful one for an Illinois woman hoping someone from Pauls Valley can help in her ongoing fight to get her disabled husband the benefits he deserves as a former military serviceman.

For Dawn Lester the battle is proving the accidents, including one right here in PV more than three decades ago, actually happened.

All of them, she says, resulted in her husband Lon suffering the brain injuries that now have him fighting a daily battle of his own thanks to a total disability.

Dawn claims at the center of all this is a whole series of factors over the years that have kept her husband from receiving the military benefits she says he deserves.

“We’ve been denied benefits because we can’t prove the accidents happened,” Dawn said during a recent phone conversation with the PV Democrat.

According to Dawn, the story of her husband goes back to him being stationed at Fort Sill here in Oklahoma from 1979 to 1982. There he was assigned to the 1st and 17th Field Artillery Unit, she said.

During his military service Dawn says Lon was involved in two helicopter emergency landings and a truck accident resulting in her husband suffering three concussions and two skull fractures.

She says one of those helicopter incidents took place in 1980 at Pauls Valley’s city golf course.

Her hope is someone can help verify the incident actually took place.

“The military has no records of it,” Dawn said.

“I want to prove he was involved in an accident,” she said. “I’m hoping somebody remembers that helicopter crash; that somebody can verify that it happened.

“If there’s anybody who can remember it, maybe they were golfing that day or happened to see it, if they can contact me and put it in writing it could go a long way in helping us get the benefits he deserves.”

As for the day of the accident here, Dawn says Lon remembers looking out a helicopter and seeing cows and farms and “beautiful scenery.”

At one point an alarm sounded as moments later the helicopter went in for a “hard landing.” Before it went down Dawn says Lon remembers seeing a couple of golfers looking up as the copter crashed right on Pauls Valley’s golf course.

Lon also apparently remembers those golfers getting into their carts and coming to help the soldiers from the helicopter.

Along with these accidents, Dawn said Lon sustained yet another traumatic injury when a brick fell on his head when he was later working as a laborer.

Now 54 years old, Lon has been out of the military service since 1982 and, according to Dawn, was declared totally disabled 21 years ago.

Since then Lon suffers from daily migraine headaches and takes a narcotic each day to maintain the pain, Dawn said.

Now Dawn’s fight remains centered on getting disability benefits for her husband and their family.

“Just put that in writing, that you say I remember the helicopter going down on the Pauls Valley golf course,” Dawn said. “That’s all I need. I need someone to say, yeah it happened.

“All they have to do is contact me. I’ll even pay for the postage. Maybe somebody can help us out.

“I am praying that someone in your town can remember this and help this disabled veteran out.”

Dawn said the mailing address to contact her is Lon and Dawn Lester, P.O. Box 204, Williamsfield, IL 61489.