Earl Duty passed away Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.
Duty was the post commander for Robert Jack VFW Post 1322 in Van Buren and District 7 Commander for the state of Arkansas. He was a U.S. Navy Veteran who traveled on the USS John King on the Mediterranean Sea and received a Bluenose Certificate.
After he spent time in the Navy, Duty enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard where he served in A Battery of the 2nd Battalion of the 142nd Field Artillery. In 1991 he was mobilized to help fight in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
When Duty became a post commander for the VFW, along with Post 1322 Quartermaster Matthew Hicks, wanted the greater good to be served.
“We wanted Robert Jack VFW Post 1322 to be bigger than the two of us,” Hicks said. “And he wanted every post member to be first and foremost into any, and many, of the decisions that were made.”
Under Duty’s command, the local VFW was able to achieve a GIF grant in 2014 as well as a Home Depot grant the same year. With the grant money, the VFW’s building was updated. Originally built in 1950, the building had outdated electrical wiring, plumbing, paint. The update also brought a remodeled kitchen which served as a meeting area for the veterans.
The friendship between Duty and Hick went beyond the professional world and into each other’s personal lives. Duty, and his partner Judy, were traveling companions with Hicks and his wife, Susan.
“We Travelled to New Orleans a couple of years ago, and since I was stationed at Fort Polk, I knew a lot of different places to see and visit,” Hicks said. “You never know what to expect with Earl’s sense of humor. We all went down to Bourbon Street, fully dressed in patriotic attire, thinking that we would blend in. However, we were the standouts.”
Hicks mentioned how Duty was a great friend and mentor and he wanted to do so much more. Another program that he put energy into was the VFW’s community involvement. Their post has successfully worked with the school districts in Van Buren, Alma, Mulberry, and Cedarville to introduce kids, faculty, and staff to their many programs. These included the Youth Essay Contest, Patriot’s Pen, and Voices of Democracy. He was also a founding member of the Unit 14 VFW Rider’s motorcycle group. Duty was the ride captain in charge of creating the ride routes and points of interest for the group’s monthly and annual rides.
“Earl was also a massive influence of our post’s biggest goal, Vision 2025,” said Hicks.
The VFW is looking to get a newer facility that will be able to house the entire membership. It will also include a location for a medical, mental, and physical health facility.
“Earl was my greatest friend and I miss him terribly,” said Hicks.
Duty was laid to rest at the U.S. National Cemetery in Fort Smith with full military honors. In his memory, donations may be made to Robert Jack VFW in Van Buren.