NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in America's armed forces. The day takes on significance for the few remaining veterans who served in the three wars of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, where almost a half a million people died.
One Nacogdoches County man remembers all three.
The first clue Dr. Paul Pearson' mind is different than most is the almost 88 year old's earliest memory was before he was two. He recalls his crib, being hungry, and his sister's voice.
"And that was a very good indication that there was something going on upstairs," said Paul Pearson, a retired US Marine Corps Lt. colonel.
Later in life, the high-IQ society MENSA documented the Depression child's smart brain that he started using responsibly early on.
"I volunteered at 17. I got my parent's permission," Paul Pearson said. "I went in at the end of WWII."
During his 30-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, a lot others recognized his analytical mind, including Marine icon Chesty Puller.
"So Chesty Puller stood me up in front of the class with his hand on my shoulder and said, 'This is the type of Marine we need in Korea,'" Paul Pearson said. Now that I remember."
The Naval Academy graduate was on the ground floor of just about every military advancement.
"I went to radar school when radar was a classified word," Paul Pearson said. "That's when I got involved with a night fighter group."
Paul Pearson's intelligence often didn't sit well with those in the higher ranks, so the quick learner was assigned to more schools than most.
"They didn't know exactly what to do with me," Paul Pearson said. "They bounced me around."
Eventually, he landed at Sandia Base, New Mexico for another new study.
"For the employment of nuclear weapons," Paul Pearson said.
Paul Pearson held important, authoritative, and highly responsible positions. However, the career military man knew something was missing.
"I'm not a hero, but all I'm saying is if I wanted to get my ticket punched I had to be where the action was," Paul Pearson said.
Late in his career he volunteered for Vietnam. The commanding officer of 26th Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division was awarded the Legion of Merit.
"They got me down for developing an automatic data system and being the 26th Marines," Paul Pearson said.
Paul Pearson doesn't seek any kind of attention. It's his beloved wife Cecile who encourages the recognition.
"I cherish him more than I do than even my own life because of what he has done for the country and willingly done, Cecile Pearson said.
Yet Pearson was passed over for full colonel. The reasons may be political. The sharp mind defended fellow Marines in court martial proceedings, and he was a whistle blower. However, he has no ill feelings. The Marine still raises and lowers his flag every day. And welcomes …
"Another challenge," Paul Pearson said. "I operate on challenges."
Lt. Col. has never stopped learning. Following two master degrees and retiring from the Marines he earned a doctorate in education.