Al Paquette enlisted in the U. S. Army back in 1958. He wanted to serve his country and be a Paratrooper.
Al completed his Basic Training at Fort Dix, NJ, and attended jump school at Fort Bragg, NC, where he was stationed until 1963. He was sent to Germany from 1963 – 1966, and his career continued at the Yuma Proving Grounds located in Arizona, testing military equipment. Sadly, while stationed in Yuma, Al was notified that his younger brother, who had been drafted into the Army and was only 23 years old, had been killed in Vietnam on October 13, 1967. Al was so proud of his brother who was awarded two Silver Stars, a Bronze Medal and a Purple Heart. It was one year later that Al would also be sent to Vietnam.
Al was part of the 1st Aviation Brigade, 173rd SAC, a surveillance unit that would keep track of troop movement on the ground, and if the enemy was in the wrong place, his unit was responsible for calling in fire. Al received a Bronze Star during his time in Vietnam.
After his active duty, Al was stationed at Fort Lee, VA, where he was discharged in 1970. When he returned home, his life changed drastically. Not only was he dealing with transitioning into civilian life, he had to deal with the end of his marriage and raising his two sons.
Al left Fort Lee and moved to Wilmington, NC, where he was employed for 26 years at Sears working in appliances. After retiring from Sears, he worked at Cape Fear Academy for another 10 years driving their activity bus before officially retiring.
While in Vietnam, Al was exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical the military used for the dual purpose of defoliating forest areas that might conceal Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces and destroying crops that might feed the enemy. Al is now experiencing the side effects of Agent Orange and has trouble walking and breathing.
Purple Heart Homes will be installing a ramp at the front entrance of Al’s home, along with a walk in shower, which will provide a safe and convenient alternative for bathing.
Al remarried in 1985 and resides with his wife Rosa, He proudly states, “I am thankful for the great relationship we have. I couldn’t find a better person to live with.”
When asked what it means to have Purple Heart Homes assist him, Al responded, “I lose my balance a lot and I am afraid to go down stairs. I have to go down the steps backwards so I don’t fall. This will be a great help.”
Thank you Al, for your service and devotion to our country. We also thank your wife, Rosa, for being there with you, and we welcome you both into our Purple Heart Homes family.