Veteran, community servant waging war against a new enemy

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For Ron Stone, his battle against colon cancer may be his toughest

By Eric Lowe

CCM Correspondent

At the end of the day, it’s the Good Samaritan with the noble qualities who will always shine the light for others. This certainly applies to hometown Amsterdam resident and former U.S Army veteran Ron “Big Daddy” Stone. Not only for serving his country, but also dedicating his time and effort with charity events throughout the Tri-State area.

 A 1988 graduate and successful football player from Springfield High School, Stone was, at the time, only the second player to letter 3 times in league history. He was a first team offensive tackle selection his junior year and first team offense and defense his senior year.

“Rich Gregor was a huge influence on me in school back in those days. Considering we were undersized compared to other teams, he would always tell us, ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,’” Stone said. He added that Gregor coached great fundamentals and to never quit before the whistle blows.

Stone enlisted and served in the army active duty 3D Battalion, 15th Mech Infantry and in the 24th Infantry Division. Enlisting in March of 1990, Stone spent time in Desert Storm from Aug. 2, 1990, through March 18, 1991. He says he enlisted because he needed structure in his life, and his father, Ron Sr., and uncle, Raymond, were both veterans, and he was influenced by his uncle, Gary, who was serving in the military at that time.

Asked about his experience in the military, Stone said, “The first three days out of (AIT) Advanced Individual Training was complete chaos. I reported to Fort Stewart, GA, with all my belongings and was ready to serve. Upon reporting to my first sergeant, he told me I had three days to take all my belongings back home, and then fly back to Savannah, GA. He said to only bring three sets of BDUs and underclothes.” ‘We will give you everything else you need once you’re in-process’, he told me. Well, after I did what the sergeant asked of me, I flew back to Savannah. Everything went super-fast with my unit already having my vehicle prepped and aboard a ship ready to head to Saudi Arabia.”

The Gulf war occupied a more complex place in military history. The direction of war was confusing to most, but the overall outcome had purpose and meaning that lead to a buildup of troops and defense in Saudi Arabia. Stone mentioned the difficulties he and his fellow soldiers experienced during the combat phase.

“The bad part about the war was our Unit lost nine soldiers due to Friendly Fire. They were in APC’s (Armored Personnel Carriers) and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. I was attached to the Scout Platoon, so I wasn’t near any of that. Once the war was over, we were ready to finally rest at our home base in Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia.”

Stone recalled some of his most memorable moments during his service.

 “While crossing the desert and going into battle, we came to crossroads where we were heading North, and other Divisions were heading East. I ran into James Cole, one of the guys I went to basic training with. Cole was doing traffic duty for the 82nd Airborne and we both thought how crazy it was to run into each other. We were both surprised to say the least,” Stone said.

   “In Saudi Arabia and Iraq, there were stores that sold Black Market Cassettes. You could buy a Cassette for your Walkman with every AC/DC song on it at the time. There was also a really small village store we were allowed to visit once a week. The store was like a little carryout. You could get a half chicken, potato, and a soda for $3.00,” Stone added.

It’s not just Ron Stone’s football success or military service that is noble, but the help he has provided to local charities.

Stone is the Ohio Regional Mother Chapter Representative for the ‘WarDogs’ Motorcycle Club, which enjoys the spirit of family, community unity, and comradery amongst riders who enjoy helping others. The club was founded in 2003 in Pittsburgh, PA, by a few Marines who didn’t want to be in a typical motorcycle club. As the club grew, they started taking in other branches of the military, and even civilians. The WarDogs are currently in seven states in the Eastern

United States.

 “I am currently the Ohio representative in charge of all members in Ohio,” he said.

“In particular, the Ohio club likes to do as many local benefits and Poker Run’s as they possibly can. Generally, for the VFWs and American Legions in the area,” he explained.

“It doesn’t matter if you ride in a motorcycle club or not, we all work together to make it happen and help out,” Stone said. The Wardogs have been helpful with showing support and participating in Poker-Runs and golf outings for nonprofit organizations, such as, ‘Just-Be-Clause’, which provides a way to give Christmas toys to children that may not otherwise receive.

“Probably the best feeling I get is when we get to come and do something in my hometown,” Stone added. The Wardogs recently visited Amsterdam, along with American Legion Rider Clubs from Wintersville Post 557, Hopedale Post 682, and other motorcycle riders and residents from the area, for the Wall Re-Dedication.

“It was nice to ride into town to such great people and the pride Amsterdam has in its town. It also gives the people out there the chance to see what we are all about,” he added. 

On a more personal level Stone said, “My dad and I have been doing benefits and poker runs since the late 90s. Once he had his bout with colon cancer, it got tough for a little while. When we would go on poker runs, he would get worn out, so we would have to stop somewhere. Whether it was a gas station or a nice pull-off along the road, he and I would go lay down in the grass and take a nap. Then keep on riding.”

Big Daddy Ron is now waging a battle of his own, stage 4 colon cancer. He is unable to work due to the chemotherapy treatments. A fundraiser is planned Nov. 14 at the Amsterdam VFW Post 232, located on Liberty St., Amsterdam, to raise money for medical and living expenses. A $10 donation includes a raffle ticket and dinner that includes spaghetti and meatballs or pulled pork and veggies, salad and dessert. Carryout will be available.

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