Sonarman Paul LaMont, recipient of Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal

Pictured: The Hon. Blake Moore, Utah District 1, Paul D. LaMont, American Legion Department of Utah Post 58, and Department of Utah Commander Doug Case

On May 2, 2023, with a packed house, standing room only at the newly opened Dan Gyllenskog Veterans Resource Center, North Logan, Utah, Sonarman 3rd Class Paul R. LaMont, USN, was awarded the Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal presented by The Hon. Blake Moore. The ceremony was well attended by family and friends, elected public officials, American Legion members, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Marine Corps League members, and veterans spanning conflicts from the Korean War era through the war on terrorism. LaMont served aboard USS Preston (DD-795) in the early 1960s during Operation Dominic.
According to Wikipedia, “Operation Dominic was the largest nuclear weapons testing program ever conducted by the United States, involving a series of 31 nuclear test explosions conducted in the Pacific Ocean. Operation Dominic occurred during the period of high Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.”
Like so many of Paul’s shipmates, he’s battled cancer for years, problems attributed to radiation exposure during his service. A long and difficult journey, losing shipmates and friends to radiation exposure, Paul’s grit and tenacity never faltering, a stalwart example to all. But the story of Paul, like so many veterans, isn’t all about his service in the Navy, although it is well known that he grew up a scrapper and became an exceptional boxer. If rumors and allegations are true, Paul was often the source of income for the sailors, seemingly dumb enough to bet on him. Of course, he would prevail, thereby increasing their shore leave funds generously. When you look into Paul’s eyes you see great character, resilience, humility and a glimmer of mischievousness. Eyes reflecting a life being well lived, full of energy and optimism, the man who doesn’t know what quit is. Life after the Navy found him a distinguished career in law enforcement, community engagement, devout family man and engaging community activist. Although undergoing cancer treatment, Paul remains upbeat and active in Post 58, greatly influencing the lives of all of us with whom he has contact, the living definition of A Great American.

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