Bill Basham was born and raised right here in Brandenburg. He grew up on a farm, raising cattle, tobacco and hay. Just after turning 18, he decided to join the Army. After 16 weeks of basic training at Ft. Knox, he got orders to ship out. He arrived at Ft. Louis in Washington where he stayed for 7 days before boarding a troop ship headed to Incheon, Korea.
“That was the coldest place I’ve ever been in my life, and the stinkiest,” said Basham. “They fertilized everything with human waste. That’s the reason I can’t eat rice to this day.”
Basham was assigned his weapons and assigned to a company, filling in for soldiers who were no longer there. Basham was with the 24th Division, 21st Infantry Regiment.
He stayed in Korea for 12 months and 29 days. When asked about memories from that time, Basham says it was “nothing but bad.”
However, he says one positive part was being able to visit Tokyo, Japan during his time there.
“The taxi drivers knew one speed: wide open.
Basham decided he wanted to do some sightseeing, so he took a train to Mt. Fuji. He says the train conductors were in just as much of a hurry as the taxi drivers in Japan.
“When that conductor yells ‘all aboard,’ you better have your butt in there.
After more than a year of deployment, Basham returned home to Brandenburg, and he says things hadn’t changed much, but he was glad to be back. He met his future wife, got married, and then the Army wanted him to enlist again, offering to send him to Ft. Benning in Georgia to helicopter school to become a helicopter pilot.
“My wife said she wasn’t going to follow me all over the world, so I just got out,” said Basham.
He had trouble finding a job, but eventually found one in a trailer park digging out sewers, ditches, and working on trailers. The pay was $1 per hour. Basham eventually moved to the filling station, which was still $1 per hour, but the work was cleaner.
Finally, Basham was hired on at Olin Chemical, where he worked for more than 40 years until retirement.
But, Basham decided he wanted to serve his community in another capacity. The sheriff’s office reached out to him and asked him to go full time with them. Basham accepted, and continued to work for the sheriff’s office for 14 more years before retiring once again.
Still, Basham found yet another way to give back to his community. He decided to run for Brandenburg City Council, and he was elected. He still serves on the Council today, and he doesn’t have any plans of stopping any time soon.
“I enjoy trying to help the community,” said Basham. “I was elected by the people, for the people. It’s not about things that I want. It’s about things that people bring to me and they want. I shouldn’t try to force my views on anyone.”
Basham says that being in the Army made him grow up fast, and it also taught him that there are always two sides to every story. He says that it also allowed him the opportunity to see a lot of the world, but he’ll always call Brandenburg home.
“I like the people here,” said Basham. “I like the climate, and I like the surrounding neighborhood.”
Today, Basham lives on his 200-acre farm today surrounded by his three children — literally. He gave his two daughters and his son each an acre of land on his farm to build their house on.