Freedom Fighters: Dale Grandstaff - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Dale Grandstaff

(KLTV) -

Around Overton, TX, Dale Grandstaff is known as "the Sign Man."

"Since we don't have a newspaper, I put up a sign for any nonprofit organization and any VFW when we are asked," Grandstaff said.

It's a service Grandstaff has been doing for his community for more than 30 years. The sign was originally erected by Grandstaff's "Veterans of Foreign Wars" chapter. Though the chapter has long since stopped meeting, Grandstaff still wants people to know the VFW connection. And that all goes back to his love of country from more than 50 years ago.

"Korea caught the United States with their pants down around their ankles," Grandstaff said.

Grandstaff arrived in Korea in the early days of the Korean Conflict, and had only World War II equipment to fight with.

"That was like getting out of a T-model into a Thunderbird, it was really a magnificent piece of equipment," Grandstaff said.

Grandstaff was at first a tank command gunner, after bragging he could shoot a mosquito at a two mile distance. After proving his abilities, he was then promoted to tank commander.
His tank sported a Texas flag on top and was named "the Texas Belle."

"We kept up real high on the mountain so we could command about a two-mile area down in the valley." Grandstaff said.

The mountainous region where Grandstaff was stationed was in the Iron Triangle above the 38th parallel, the dividing line he said.

While it's true that bullets can't penetrate a tanks metal armor, fire was its biggest danger.

"Tanks had 233 gallons of gas; it would take four gallons to go one mile," Grandstaff said.

So once a tank caught fire, it was just one big explosion.

"They were after us with some phosphorous shells, probably hit 10 yards from us three times so they were trying to set us on fire," he recalled. "So if they hit you at the right place it would have set that gasoline off... but we were trained well, we were equipped well."

Grandstaff said it only took him three seconds to get a shot off to stop the enemy gun firing the phosphorous shells.

"You have to have confidence in yourself and your equipment."

Dale Grandstaff only spent a year in Korea, but the lessons learned there have lasted a lifetime. He said it's a time people shouldn't forget, and that's why he's been active in the erection of a veterans monument at the Overton Cemetery. And of course, as "the sign man", keeping up the VFW sign downtown.

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