U.S. Army veteran James Cantrell, who served his country in two wars, will be the keynote speaker Monday for the county’s Memorial Day ceremony at Warren County Memorial Airport at 7 a.m.
“I am proud to be selected to serve this country as one of its soldiers,” said Cantrell. “I’m still in contact with the men I taught and served with. I love them like brothers.”
Cantrell was born in June 1942 in McMinnville. He attended Northside School and City High School in 1960. He graduated from MTSU in the ROTC Events Program. After college, he went straight to active duty at Fort Benning, Ga., where he went to Officer Candidate School to prepare for 2nd lieutenant military training.
After his time at Fort Benning, he attended Airborne School and Ranger School. Soon after, he went to the Korean War and was assigned to the infantry battalion. Cantrell worked for the Korean Demilitarized Zone in North Korea as a company commander.
After Korea, he came back to the states to test airborne equipment and weapons at Fort Benning.
During his time in Vietnam, Cantrell went in combat as a riffle company commander and received the Combat Infantry Badge.
Cantrell returned to the states in 1969 and enrolled in the Infantry Officer Advanced School for a year. The next year he became an instructor for three years at a Florida ranger camp.
While in Florida he married Casey and they adopted their first daughter.
Cantrell and his family went to Germany in 1973 and stayed for three years as he was assigned as the 9th Division airborne unit commander. Later he and his family moved back to McMinnville where their second daughter was born.
Back in the states, Cantrell worked at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tullahoma.
Cantrell is now retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and is living in McMinnville with his wife.