GREER, S.C. (WSPA) – Ron Simmons joined the Army on April 3, 1968. He said he felt like it was his patriotic duty.

“The Vietnam war was going on and I had friends of mine that had already went,” Simmons told 7NEWS. “Some lost their lives. But I felt like it was my duty to go.”

A skills test qualified Simmons to work with Nike Hercules Missiles.

Nike Hercules Missiles were considered to be the Army’s most frightening anti-aircraft weapon.

“I was in the IFC area on top of the mountain, which was called the Initial Fire Control area. We basically had two departments in the IFC area. One either you were a target tracking radar operator, or you’re a missile tracking operator,” Simmons explained. “I started out in the missile tracking operator.”

Following the service, Simmons took several jobs in the armored car business which eventually brought him to South Carolina.

He then retired in 2010 to take care of his parents.

After their passing, Simmons said he came across a sign.

“And I passed by the Taylor’s school bus center, out on 290, and they had a big sign,” Simmons said. “It said ‘bus drivers needed,’ and I said, well, I could probably do that.”

What started out as a side job turned into a nearly decades-long duty of Simmons driving special needs buses for Greenville county.

“And I left on December 19th of 2017 or something like that,” he added. “And I said that’s it, I’m not gonna work anymore.”

But that didn’t last long.

“And then this lady called me up one day… She said, ‘I want you to start to work at this company called Project Hope’. I said, ‘what’s project hope?’ She says, ‘Well, it’s a school where they work with kids with autism.'”

Simmons said he’s been doing that ever since.

“We load the kids up, and we drive them out to Landrum to the school out there and then they work with the children and we get, we get to work with the children,” he said. “We get to be involved with the children and stuff. So that’s one reason I like it.”

Simmons said it’s in his nature to give back and that he’s always cared about people.

He said he’s happy this job gives him the opportunity to continue to do so.

Simmons also added that out of all of his accomplishments, he’s most proud of his marriage to his wife of 53 years who has stuck by him throughout his time in the service, and every move afterward.

Together the two have two kids who are grown and are happily settled at their home in Greer, where they plan to stay forever.

Ron Simmons, Thank You for Your Service.

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