Saluting a veteran who goes beyond the call (39064)

E. Randy Dupree is the commander of the American Legion Col. Charles Young Post No. 398 in Harlem. As one of the most respected veterans in the city, Dupree leads other veterans in the community through outreach and service projects.

Along with being a model citizen for his military service, Dupree, 77, also has his own company, Dupree Environmental Consultant Inc., that provides services to small businesses around the city.

A native of Greenville, S.C., Dupree went to college at the historically Black Florida Memorial College on a sports scholarship. While there, he studied science and became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity as a charter member of the school’s chapter.

Graduating from FMC in 1955, he became a high school science teacher in Florida. However, during the Korean War, he, like many other young men, was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was sent to Texas where he was trained as a medic because of his science background, though he did not go to Korea like his fellow comrades.

“There were 125 of us who were in the medic class, and when I finished my training I thought I was going to Korea,” he said. “There were four of us who were sent to France instead.”

When Dupree got to Europe, he realized he was one of four Black men who were not sent to be medics in Korea but were sent to France to be medics at a base mostly made up of athletes. Dupree stayed in France for 19 months before returning to the United States.

“I really had a great time and I thought France was beautiful country,” he said. “I would go to Paris every chance I got. I had a great time in the service. When I wasn’t playing ball, I was working in the clinic. It was really a great experience for me that I enjoyed.”

Upon his return, he settled in New York City rather than going back to Florida; he was offered a job at the New York City Youth Board. He would later have a series of jobs working with youth in the city, becoming a director of the Police Athletic League in Brooklyn.

To further himself, he earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in social work. While at Columbia, he was president of both the Black Student Caucus and student body. He also gave the commencement address at his graduation.

Dupree later became deputy director of the city’s bureau of pest control and assistant commissioner for the city’s Department of Health. He served as assistant commissioner of Health Environmental Community Services for nearly 20 years before retiring.

His work with the American Legion began when he joined in 2004. He served as vice president of his post and oversaw youth programs. He was later elected commander and is serving his second three-year term. The post has over 125 members.

“We have a great youth program,” he said. “We have events for youth and take them on a trip every year. There are also programs to teach them how to play piano and drums, and it’s all free. We feed the community the first Saturday of the month. One of our other focuses is helping all veterans with health problems, housing problems and whatever other problems-we help them. They call us with anything they need.”

Dupree resides in Harlem, where he lives with his wife of 44 years. They have two children.