WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Often times military service is a short part of a veteran’s life, only a few years. Sometimes it turns into a career. For other veterans, it sparks a life-long passion.
That’s especially true for Marine Corps Veteran John Nanny. Not only is he proud, he’s grateful.
“I owe so much to those four years that there isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do for the military today,” Nanny said of his time in the Marines.
John Nanny’s lifetime of giving back began on December 1, of 1960, when he enlisted in the Marines.
“Coming up as a child I had seen a neighborhood boy come home on leave in his Marine Corps uniform once and it really caught my attention, so I wanted to be a Marine and I wanted to be a policeman,” Nanny recalls of why he decided to enlist.
During his four years of service, Nanny has a long list of places he was deployed and stationed, both in the United States and overseas including Bermuda, Okinawa and the Philippines. He worked in communications, cryptography and intelligence.
“Handling top-secret messages and re-routing them to the appropriate people and maintaining as tight of security as you could,” Nanny explained.
At each of his station nanny also readied for the possibility of seeing combat in Vietnam.
“We were all preparing to go in,” he continued. “Everything you did was simply preparing for the worst.”
“I was in during the Vietnam crisis. I’m a Vietnam Era veteran, but I did not have to go in country. First of all. they were protective us because of our security clearance and not wanting us anywhere near the bush. I regret that I didn’t get to serve because I was all around it.”
Of all the places he was deployed, Nanny says he has one that was a favorite.
“I was deployed to what was then Formosa and what was now Taiwan,” he explained. “We spent a month in the field just maintaining communications and running division headquarters. It was awesome.”
During some of those overseas deployments, Nanny met and became close to some local children, sparking a lifelong passion.
“My heart has always been looking after young children,” he added.
Nanny was discharged from the Marines as Corporal on November 30, 1964.
After that, he devoted more than 45 years of his life to doing special work with children in the Ohio Valley through the sheriff’s department. Nanny was also a Juvenile Justice professor at then Wheeling College and West Liberty University.
Through all that, Nanny said he still felt as though he owed something to the community and the Marine Corps, so when he retired from the school system he became involved in veterans affairs.
Among his many accolades, Nanny is a 53-year member and past Commander of the American Legion, Lifetime member of the VFW, former State Commandant of the Marine Corps League, Chairman of the Hershel “Woody” Williams Scholarship Foundation, recognized for his work by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, received The Legion of Honor Award from The Chapel of Four Chaplains and helped to bring the Gold Star Family Memorial that will soon be installed to Wheeling.
All his success he credits to four early years of his life.
“I wouldn’t trade my time in the Marine Corps for anything in the world,” he reflected.