SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Sergeant Bill Prato served 30 years as a United States soldier. In those 30 years, he served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
After 20 years, Sgt. Prato said he wishes he could do it all over again.
At 19 years old, Sgt. Prato said he wasn’t sure what he wanted, but he knew what he didn’t want.
“I did not want to go to Vietnam because they were having the draft then, and I knew that if I went into the Army, I would not, through the draft. I would not probably be here today,” said Sgt. Prato.
He spent four years in the Navy.
“This is the ship I served on. As a matter of fact, the picture, this picture right here, this copy was in the office quarters. I worked right up here on the flight deck and what you’re seeing right there is steam coming out from the catapults.”
Sgt. Prato would then go off to serve in the Army for 16 years.
“It’s a whole different ball of wax. Army was good, okay, and when you’re out there with the Army, you go to sleep out in the woods, you learn how to maintain yourself, and you learn how to live off land sometimes.”
He said he didn’t fight in combat, but he still trained for it.
“I loved serving my country. I love my country, even to this day, I love my country, and I figure the best way for me to honor it would be to help protect the citizens of the United States.”
That’s why he spent the following decade in the Air Force and even joined the 103rd Fighter Wing Honor Guard in Connecticut.
“The contributions of Sgt. Prato were instrumental in the 103rd Fighter Wing Honor Guard becoming a quality organization which has brought great praise to the organization and to the Connecticut Air National Guard.”
Sgt. Prato said the military meant fighting for his country, but it also meant unity.
“It was comradery, you know. You don’t have very many friends like you have in the military, you know, and we all look out for each other’s backs no matter what we’ve done wrong or what we’ve done good. You look out for your buddy all the time.”
Sgt. Prato came to Sioux City in the early 2000s where he retired. Sgt. Prato said if he could, he’d re-enlist in the military, specifically the Navy.