HUNTINGTON, Ind. (FOX 55) - Steve Updike is from Huntington, born and raised. If you lived there from between 2007 and 2011, he was your mayor. If you lived there before that, a county commissioner. Before that? Your police chief. But, before all that updike was a infantryman in the Army.
He was drafted into the army in 1969. He went to Fort Polk, Louisiana and quickly found out where he was headed.
He recalled his first moment at Fort Polk, saying “when you enter the gates of Fort Polk, Louisiana it said “Welcome to the home of combat infrantryman for Vietnam.""
Ppdike trained for Vietnam, but got a first hand look at how poor these people were right when he landed.
“Soon as we pulled off base, we started going by hooches, what was called a house to them and a mama-san came out pulled down her pants went to the bathroom as we rolled by,” he said.
Ppdike ended up getting what’s called jungle rot during the monsoon season, which affected the skin on his hands and feet as a result of being wet for too long.
He was hospitalized for 3 weeks and afterwards he was retrained as a defense radar operator.
“There were several times that maybe people were coming at us and our fire support base, but the platoons had set up and stopped them from infiltrating or coming any further because we could tell them that somebody was coming at them,” he said, recalling his time spent as a radar operator.
After a year in Vietnam, Steve came home and joined the railroad, but an opportunity came up for him to join the police force in Huntington in 1983. He would spend 24 years there and leave as the police chief.
“It was a good career, but I wanted to run for mayor because I didn’t like what was happening, I didn’t agree with the past mayor and I wanted change.”
Updike would become the mayor in 2007, bring companies like Onward manufacturing and CSP to Huntington, adding jobs. He also updated the town’s water system.
But Updike faced troubles as well during his time as mayor, which is something, he said, the army prepared him for.
“The military was an absolutely good way, good training for me," said Updike.
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