“I was 17 years old when I went into the Air Force,” he reminiscences. “My dad had just bought me a Buick, and being from the South, navigating the weather on my drive North to enlist that Winter was a bit tricky; however that was just the beginning.”
Wetherington served six years of active duty. He was a member of the 556th Strategic Missile Squadron at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York.
During his time he was in charge of missile supplies which included tracking part numbers. He also served refueling aircraft at the US Naval Base in Guam.
“I did what I could to help. Sometimes, pilots were shot-up, too. It was awful,” he adds.
He remembers the tension surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis as President Kennedy led navigating Soviet Union nuclear missile activity in Cuba.
According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, President Kennedy told Americans in June 1963, “For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
Wetherington remembers how much pressure our country faced, and ponders if most people realize how close we came to nuclear warfare saying, “The world would have never been the same.”
As his father’s only son, his dad was able to petition for his son’s return home. He was honorably discharged and returned to help his father in Florida.
Fast-forward to the 90s when he met his wife Charlette. They immediately connected having a shared passion for karaoke musical entertainment where they both exceled as impersonators of stars like Elvis, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, and Conway Twitty.
Together, they operated Smoky Mountain Showcase in Gatlinburg. They held variety shows and provided entertainment for weddings and special events.
They met Dolly Parton on several occasions and describe her as always being joyful and jubilant.
In 2008, the couple moved to New York when they were hired by Six Flags to help tourism guests make personal recording keepsakes.
The couple currently lives in Jamestown. Charlette closes with advice to always stay true to who you are as she references Philippians 4:13 because it has been very meaningful to them, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Covenant Health Implements Military Recognition Program
As a member of Covenant Health, Cumberland Medical Center implemented a Veteran Recognition program in November of 2020. To date, nearly 75 patients have been recognized for their military service while being an inpatient. This new Covenant Health program helps to identify veterans as part of the hospitals’ admission process to help connect military service men and women with VA healthcare and other possible benefits.
Community collaboration is key to meet the needs of the veterans in our community. Covenant Health actively participates in the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council, The Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council and Vet to Vet Tennessee as well as other local veteran organizations.
To learn more about how Covenant Health supports veterans, visit Covenanthealth.com/veterans.