In Loving Memory- Bruce Salisbury

By Clairice Minkler

  Bruce was more than a friend and writer for the paper, he was family. He, Dottie, and their daughter, Winona,  became more important to me than I ever imagined.

      Bruce first started writing for the Veterans’ Voice  back in  the early days of the paper. Over the years since, I came to admire his intellect, tenaciousness, dry sense of humor, and dedication to his family, and the military.  Anyone who knew him (and there are many, because he never met a stranger!)would agree that he was quite a package!

  Bruce was a devoted husband to Dottie, aka, Blondie. They would have been married for 65 years on November 1, 2017. The two of them, together, were quite the power house. They spent countless hours working tirelessly on various projects, most of which were related to honoring military members, past and present.

  When I first met Bruce, he was busy getting a mountain in Colorado renamed as a permanent memorial to all those who have been killed, or are missing in action. As he put it, “this monument will be here for the lifetime of our generation and continuing ones and be a symbol that will be covered with snow, washed with summer rain, warmed in the summer sun, and will change subtly over the centuries, but forever be dedicated to America’s killed and missing in action, from all five armed services and all of our wars. When an American warrior falls, his family and friends can “go to the mountain” and not have to wait for years to have a memorial to their war constructed.”

   It was a long row to hoe, but after five years it became a reality and Mt. KIA/MIA in Saguache County, CO  was finally dedicated in October of 2006. Oh, and did I mention that while doing all of this, he was also recovering from lung cancer? That’s the kind of man Bruce was. The kind of man we need more of today.

  It wasn’t long before he was off on another project, to honor the forgotten MOH recipient from his hometown of Farmington, NM, Kenneth Worley. A project, which unfortunately, he didn’t get to see to completion. While they were busy on this new project, Dottie was also occupied with a different idea-  acquiring a ship’s bell to be rung at military funerals and for special military related events. Bruce said, “I asked Dottie what she wanted for her 79th Birthday, and she requested "a ship's bell". When that fisherman's daughter wants something to remind her of the sea, I try to take her to one of the oceans and vacation for a bit. I love to see the look on her face when she faces into an onshore  wind, her hair flying wildly, and, with a big smile samples the salt -air aroma of the Ocean.”

His roots:
  Bruce Lee Salisbury MSGT USAF, was born  May 13, 1930 in the little coal mine town of Mount Harris, Colorado, one of nine children of William and Bertha Salisbury. His Dad was a coal miner and a cowboy. 

  In 1935 they moved to Durango, Colorado where Bruce started school. In the summer of 1945 they moved to Farmington, NM, where he started his freshman year of high school. His mother did not want him to play football, so he walked away from home at age 15 and joined the US Army. Joining the service at such a tender age put him in  with a special group of warriors dubbed “VUMS,” Veterans of  Underage Military Service. He was an active member as long as he was able, and he and Dottie truly cherished and looked forward to their reunions each year. 

  During his twenty year career in the Air Force, most of his time involved flying, or aircraft maintenance. He served in Strategic Air Command, in Air Weather Service, Strategic Reconnaissance Squadrons, in Air Defense Command and other units. He was in Guam, the Aleutian Islands, Japan, Alaska, England, Greenland and at many mainland bases. 

  He married the love of his life, Dottie, at Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, TX. On the first day of March 1966 he retired and moved back to New Mexico to send his children through school. He and Dottie attended college at New Mexico State University and received several degrees. Their three children received university degrees from NMSU and served in the Air Force.

 Bruce passed away September 18, 2017. He is survived by his wife Dottie Salisbury; daughter Winona Dee Salisbury; sons William Lee Salisbury and Bruce Allan Salisbury; two grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

  He is survived by brothers Charles Salisbury and George Salisbury; and sisters Linda Creed and Annie Phelps. 

  Bruce was laid to rest on September 22 at the Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake in Monte Vista, Colorado in a beautiful ceremony complete with bagpipes, an honor guard and 21 gun salute.  I was honored to be there for this sad goodbye and hear Dottie’s bell toll for her beloved Bruce. 

  Bruce left behind quite a legacy and example for us to follow. May we all be as dedicated to our veterans as he was. RIP

Bruce, college graduation 
Bruce and family at his retirement ceremony in 1966.
Bruce, paying his respects 
Saying "Goodbye"