Bookmark and Share


An Extraordinary Fellow vBy Brian Teel The first word to enter my thoughts when I met this man of modest stature and age-defined features was “ordinary”. He impressed me as a kind man, very welcoming, a confidence about him that I could sense the moment he shook my hand. Yet, ordinary seemed like the only word my inner thoughts could find to describe this gentleman, who introduced himself as Roger Willcut. What I was to learn during the course of our interview was that ordinary was not the right word to describe him, “extraordinary” was. Roger Willcut, proprietor of Willcut Appraisals, is a man who carries a vast amount of experiences. From high-school dropout to retired Army Major, to business owner with a Master’s Degree from the University of South Dakota, Roger embodies a strong work ethic and a fierce “can do” attitude that has taken him high within the clouds to the lower depths of an ocean, and many places in-between. The son of a career military service man, Roger was in Germany attending high school when he decided joining the armed forces was what he wanted to do. “I went to basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and then went to Korea and at the end of Korea I actually got out of the service for a short time but ended up going back in. I went to Okinawa and then into Special Forces (Green Beret) for 11 years.” 10vHISVOICEvMAY/JUNE 2018 I begin to think that my initial thoughts regarding Roger were not even close to describing the man that sits before me. I have never met a Special Forces soldier and I must admit I am intrigued with knowing this fact. Images of Paratroopers and Frogmen flash within my mind, influenced by movies I have seen growing up. “Back in those days it was bad for your career to be in Special Forces all the time. Everybody wasn’t as thrilled about Special Forces as Kennedy was, and especially senior officers and others who weren’t Special Forces didn’t necessarily care because back then there was no hoopla when it came to Special Forces. We came and went, pretty quietly in those days.” When Roger says, “We came and went quietly,” a story comes about describing a training exercise done in the cover of darkness. “When I was in Special Forces we did a lot of training. I did submarine training. I had earned Jump Wings and me and eleven other guys jumped out of a plane in the middle of the ocean in the dark of the night and got picked up by a sub off the coast of the Philippines near Baguio.” “We latched our gear to the outside of the sub, and put twelve extra guys in the sub and steamed toward the coast.” “ The sub went to periscope height, we climbed out, blew up our rubber raft, loaded our gear into the raft, hooked a rope to the Conning Tower of the sub and was pulled in as close as the sub could go. After we were dropped off we went on in.” By now I am completely enthralled by this Special Forces cloak and dagger story and listen with full attention as Roger tells me about this experience. I imagine the cold ocean waves crashing against the rubber raft as twelve men make their way covertly to land. “We went in, stashed our raft and everything, and spent a week doing things inland. Then, in the dark of the night, a week or ten days later, we went back to the shore, grabbed our stuff, did a little flashlight thing, saw a little flashlight thing out there (in the ocean) because this was a long time ago and we didn’t have night-vision stuff or things like that, and rowed back out.” “We found the antennae on the Conning Tower,” Roger continues, “were pulled back out and we climbed back in (the submarine) and stayed under water until we got back to white beach Okinawa (Japan).” In those ten days that Roger and his comrades where inland, no locals knew they were there. Roger reflects on his service in the military with admiration and of time well spent. During his career he was awarded numerous awards including the Combat Infantryman Badge, awarded to those who are Infantry or Special Forces involved in active ground combat. He also received the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, which is a South Vietnam military decoration awarded for deeds of valor or heroic conduct during battle with the enemy. Roger also earned the very prestigious Purple Heart, awarded to Servicemen wounded while serving in the U.S. Military. As he tells me about his Purple Heart he shows me the scar on his arm, a reminder, of the devotion he had and continues to have, for his beloved country. “The military was a very good experience for me. Going into the service as a high school dropout to where I am now, and be a guy with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration is because of the military. Because of the things the military allowed me to do, taught me to do, and made it possible for me to do.” Close to retiring from the military as a 0-4 Major, Roger continued to move forward by attending the University of South Dakota. Following the advice of an economics professor, he chose to pursue a degree in Public Administration. In 1975 he began working on his appraisal license, and in 1977 became an Independent-Fee Appraiser.

© Copyright 2015 Her Voice Online