Although he had a draft deferment, Walter Betley enlisted in the Army in 1943.

Although he had a draft deferment, Walter Betley enlisted in the Army in 1943.

"I could have stayed out of the Army for the whole war," Betley, 90, said. "I just couldn't see all my friends go and not me."

That marked the beginning of Betley's nearly 28 years in the service. During that time, he rose from the rank of private all the way to colonel by the time he retired in 1971 and was deployed during three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

"I can't say I enjoyed the wars, but I enjoyed the service in between," Betley said. "It was my job."

On Monday, May 28, Betley, an Upper Arlington resident, will be recognized at the UA Civic Association's 41st Annual Memorial Day Run.

Chuck Baxley, one of the UACA's directors for this Memorial Day Run, said the tradition of recognizing an individual veteran at the run.

"We just thought it was a nice touch to remember why it is we're having the event," Baxley said. "The intention is to keep it going forward."

Betley's military career took him all over the world from England and Germany to the Far East and Central and South America.

"It gets quite complicated," he said. "My career was quite different than most."

During World War II, Betley, originally from Boston, was a combat engineer in Europe, traveling through France and Germany and ending up in Austria. He spent about 18 months in post-war Germany before returning stateside.

Betley first went to Korea in 1947 as part of the occupation forces' efforts to rebuild the country. He went to Korea again in 1950 after the war broke out.

"I saw a great deal of combat during that war," Betley said. "Fortunately, I was never hit. I put my year in and went back to the States."

During the Vietnam War, Betley was stationed in Saigon but traveled all over the country, working as an advisor to South Vietnamese combat engineer units.

At other periods during his service, Betley served as the director of the combat engineering school at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, resident engineer in Frankfurt, Germany, administrative officer in the Panama Canal Zone for the Inter-American Geodetic Survey and ROTC instructor at Ohio State University.

After retiring from the military, Betley was a teacher for two years in Upper Arlington and for 17 years at the Eastland Career Canter before retiring for a second time. He is very active in woodworking and woodturning and is a longtime member of St. Agatha Catholic Church.

Betley and his late wife Margaret met in Korea and married in Japan in 1949. They had three children, two girls and a boy, all three of which graduated from Upper Arlington High School.

The UACA Memorial Day Run begins at 9 a.m. Monday, May 28, at the corner of Lytham and Reed roads. Race-day registration begins at 7 a.m. although online registration and additional information is available through the civic association's website,