“Our government asks so very much of young men. Sometimes, I think maybe we should leave the young men alone and get some of us old guys to take care of business,” Sides said. Sides served in the Air Force’s 821st Civil Engineering Squadron from 1967 to 1971. He later joined the National Guard unit in Cordova and served alongside his uncle Ebb Dawkins, a Korean War veteran and “soldier’s soldier” who creased his uniform so crisply that it looked like it could cut a man. “It’s a decision I’ll never regret. I was in and out several times. I always said that even though I spent more years in the Army than the Air Force, the Army never got the Air Force out of me,” he said. Sides ended his military service as a maintenance instructor in the U.S. Army Reserves. The night before his final class in February 2007, Sides realized how hard it would be to hang up his uniform. “Since I was 19 until the present, there has been a military uniform hanging in my closet. I was always proud of my uniform. When I first went in to teach a class, I made sure that I was squared away and I would tell them, ‘This is the standard. This is what I expect from you next month,’” he said. Now Sides imparts knowledge to the members of Boy Scout Troop 114 in Cordova. Sides has been involved with the Boy Scouts in some capacity for 59 years. He currently serves as chairman of the Scout committee but also attends every meeting and summer camp. One of his most important contributions is teaching the Scouts flag etiquette. He underscores the importance of properly handling a flag by telling stories about three classmates who gave their lives on a foreign battlefield. At an emotional flag retirement ceremony hosted recently by the troop, Sides watched with pride as young Scouts marched forward resembling little soldiers as they placed dozens of donated flags upon the fire. Under different circumstances, they might have been the grandchildren of Larry Black, Sammy Smith and Jerry Higgins. Because of their sacrifice and his own love of country, Sides stands ready to defend the flag today if asked. When the national anthem is played, even while he is watching a sporting event on television, he stands ramrod straight and salutes the symbol of the nation. “I remember coming home on leave and being so proud to stand in uniform at football games and salute my flag. I’m just as proud today. When they play the national anthem at a University of Alabama football games, I try to stand just as straight and be just as crisp with my salute as I did as a 19-year-old soldier,” Sides said.