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Indianapolis veteran recalls paratrooper career, work with American Legion

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As part of WISH-TV’s monthlong series on veterans, here’s the story of Ron Patterson, and Indianapolis native who joined the military in 1985 at the age of 20.

Patterson has a lot to be proud of and he takes pride in the leap of faith he took.

“I had started to make some mistakes in my life. My mother had passed away when I was in high school. I had a feeling if she saw the direction I was heading, she wouldn’t be pleased with me. I saw an ad from the United States Army to join as an infantry person on the buddy program to get discipline and focus. The next week, I joined the military. It turned my life around. I was able to graduate as an honor gradate,” said Patterson.

He became a sergeant in the Gulf War and was deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division.

“There were certainly times in the war where it was certainly terrfying. I saw things and heard things you shouldn’t see,” said Patterson.

He relies on the lifelong friendships he made in the service to keep him grounded. One of those friends he keeps close to his heart is Danny Cunningham. He died shortly after the war. His sister gave Patterson his dog tags as a symbol of the bond they shared as paratroopers. Cunningham’s friendship inspired Patterson to continue to serve the veteran community as the District 10 vice commander for the American Legion.

“Something I’ve given my life to is to support sisters and brothers who are past veterans and help them in the community through the American Legion,” said Patterson.

Patterson continues to live up to the Airborne Creed, which reads in part, “In peace and war I will never fail, anytime, anyplace, anywhere … I am airborne!” because being a paratrooper is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle and a service.

“We are all faced with adversity. Something I always carry with me is that Airborne creed. I’m always going to lean forward. Sometimes you have to move left or right, but if you lean forward, you’ll typically accomplish what you want in life,” said Patterson.

One of his biggest accomplishments is what he thinks his mom would think of him: “She would be proud of me. I did all the things I was raised to do. I’ve been successful. For much is given, much is expected.”

Patterson will keep using the skills and lessons he’s learned in the military to give back.