Joel Robert Light was named the Veteran of the Month Tuesday at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting. Pictured (L to R) are Rich Maron, Kosciusko County Veteran Affairs officer; Bob Conley, county commissioner; Light; Brad Jackson, county commissioner; and Cary Groninger, county commissioner. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Joel Robert Light was named the Veteran of the Month Tuesday at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting. Pictured (L to R) are Rich Maron, Kosciusko County Veteran Affairs officer; Bob Conley, county commissioner; Light; Brad Jackson, county commissioner; and Cary Groninger, county commissioner. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
A Vietnam War veteran who loves the music of Frank Sinatra is the May 2019 Veteran of the Month.

Kosciusko County Veteran Affairs Officer Rich Maron announced Joel Robert Light as the recipient of the honor at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Light was born June 8, 1948, in Warsaw, to Bob and Vivian Light. He spent his childhood in Warsaw, graduating from Warsaw High School in 1966. He married his high school sweetheart, Cindy Bayne, in December 1967.

“Things would change drastically in April of 1968 for the young couple when Joel would be drafted into the U.S. Army in support of the Vietnam War,” Maron said.

Light went to Indianapolis to be sworn in and then was sent to Fort Bragg, N.C., for boot camp for eight weeks. Then he was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., for advanced infantry training. Ten weeks later, he was sent to Fort Riley, Kan.

Maron said Light moved his family to Kansas and was there for about six months before being shipped out to Germany for three months of training for what Light called “war games.”

Finally, Light was transferred to the 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam.

Maron said, “Joel said the only good thing about getting drafted for Vietnam was you only had to serve two years on active duty. It was three years for those that volunteered. And only one year of service in Vietnam was required.”

In November 1972, President Richard Nixon signed paperwork to begin the withdrawal of 35,000 troops from Vietnam. Light was one of the “lucky ones” and was discharged in November 1972.

When Light returned to Warsaw, he began a career with RR Donnelley. He retired in 2015 after 45 years.

Joel and Cindy have two children: Doug and his wife, Stacy, and their three children; and Kelly and her husband, Steve Carson, and their two children.

He’s been a member of the American Legion Post 49 in Warsaw for years. His biggest hobby is his collection of Frank Sinatra memorabilia.

Maron said, “Sometimes when we do this, in some cases the bio is three to four pages long. And sometimes it’s just short and sweet. Because the reality is, we’re honoring someone who went to war. And for a year that he spent there, it’s obvious that there’s not a whole lot of fond memories. It was a difficult time. So we honor you this morning for laying down your life for all of us over that year and serving your country.”

Maron then presented the framed certificate to Light for being the Veteran of the Month.

After the presentation and some photos, Maron told the audience that Light said he would sing a Frank Sinatra song for everyone “but he can’t sing,” which had everyone chuckling.