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Ronald H. Durham, decorated soldier, dies

Ronald Hunt Durham used to say that serving in the military "kept him out of trouble and gave him the opportunity to see the world," said his daughter Kelly Ann Durham of Medford.

"He was a wonderful father and a devoted husband and grandfather," she said. "He was so proud of serving in the military. It was one of the best times of his life."

Durham, a medal-winning Vietnam War veteran formerly of Nesconset, died Oct. 3 at age 68.

Durham joined the Army when he was only 17, Kelly said. He first served in the Army between 1961 and 1965, when he guarded the border between East and West Germany, Kelly said.

Upon returning to the United States, Durham "would hang out at bars a lot" and get himself into trouble at times, she said.

Durham decided to enlist in the Army again in 1966 and was sent to Vietnam, where he served for three years.

Durham earned several medals during his time in Vietnam, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Bronze Star with Valor. In 1968, he received a Silver Star medal for his leadership while engaged in military actions with hostile forces, Kelly said.

After the war, Durham, who grew up in Brooklyn, lived in Nesconset for more than 20 years. During that time, he owned and ran a boiler-repair business. Kelly said the job was fitting, since her father loved the heat.

When Durham retired in 2004, he decided to leave Long Island and move to Florida with his wife, the former Diane Grogan, in search of a longer summer.

"He had very little tolerance for the cold," Kelly said. "He needed the warmer climate."

In Florida, Durham became an avid golfer, she said. For the past few years, he organized a golf tournament in his town for about 20 of his friends from Long Island, she said.

Durham had been battling lung cancer for about two years, Kelly said. Five years ago, Durham had suffered from prostate cancer.

Besides his wife and daughter, he is survived by his sister, Rose Patricia Robertson, of Corona, Calif.; his brother, Robert Durham, of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; and his grandson, Hunter Michael Matthew, of Medford.

Durham was buried with military honors at a Pinelawn cemetery on Oct. 9.

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