Mt. Olive AME Church in the Tarry community recently recognized and honored veterans. The speaker was Vietnam Veteran James Lamar Lambert, a member of Allen Temple AME Church at of Pine Bluff.

Lambert stated that someone asked him, “How are you doing?” And he answered, “My cup may not be overflowing, but IT’S NEVER EMPTY,” he said in a news release.

During the presentation, the speaker took the congregation on a journey from Bearden, Ark., to Hawaii and then to Vietnam.

Lambert graduated valedictorian from Bearden in 1962 and caught a Greyhound bus to Kansas City, Kan., the next morning to get away as fast as he could from “that little town.”

But, after not having any luck finding a job there, he moved to Oakland, Calif. He was still not able to find a job because the employers were not hiring young able-bodied men back then because they were going to get drafted into the armed services, according to Lambert.

Lambert enlisted into the U.S. Army not knowing “what in the world had he gotten himself into,” he said.

After basic training at Fort Ord in California, Lambert was sent to Army Intelligence School in Fort Carson, Colo., because of his high scores on the Army tests.

“He stated when he arrived, the first thing he saw was a giant warhead with an ‘eye’ on it that turned everywhere you turned, and he said, ‘what in the world have I gotten myself into; because they told him he was now assigned to a missile unit and would be sent to Hawaii,’” according to the release.

So, he went home before deploying to see his high school sweetheart who, is now his wife of 53 years, Pearlene Parham Lambert, and she wasn’t home. So, he goes off to Hawaii, then to Vietnam for 2 tours.

“As soon as he arrived on the first tour, while riding in a Jeep weighed down with sandbags in case they hit a landmine, he could hear the swoosh of bullets flying by his head as he was being shot at. He stated the second time he went, he was handcuffed to a briefcase and escorted to Vietnam carrying orders,” according to the release.

Lambert said during his time in Vietnam, there were many “What in the world have I gotten myself into” moments, but Jesus was always with him. He recounted the story of the disciples being on the boat during the storm, but because Jesus was with them. He was able to calm the raging sea.

After returning home in 1965, Lambert enlisted in the Army National Guard becoming the first Black Army National Guardsman, according to the release.

Though he is no longer in service, he always strives to be of service to others — volunteering as a citizen policeman, security officer for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Girls and being a Little League football coach, among other things.

He urged the congregation to strive to be of service to others as well because it’s everyone’s duty to serve God, family, country and others.

The co-chairman for the program was the speaker’s daughter, the Rev. Tonya Lambert Boyce. The pastor of the church is the Rev. Welton Boyce. The program was held Nov. 17.