My Time in Uniform

United States Test & Evaluation Command

United States Test & Evaluation Command

In March 1964, while working at Grid Services section, there was a request from Col. Black Todo: something for the Skull Valley Indians, who had no toilets or lights and lived on dirt floors. My section laid a cable from the power station to the village and used our surplus tent lights to illuminate each hut. We then put in a septic system separate from the Indian agent's house, who had his own system and refused to improve the village. The tribal chief who worked in our motor pool was so pleased, the colonel and us had fresh elk bagged by the chief.

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Serving the nation in the Cold War, Vietnam

Serving the nation in the Cold War, Vietnam

I was 17 when I joined the Army Reserve. I went to Fort Polk, La., for basic training and spent six months there. In November 1963, I re-enlisted in the regular Army and was at Fort Dix, N.J., getting ready to be shipped to Germany when President Kennedy was killed. My MOS was 102, infantry heavy weapons. In Germany I was with the 24th Infantry Division in Augsburg, Germany. Our unit was sent to West Berlin for three months' assignment, which was a great experience for me during the Cold War years of 1964-1965. In 1965 I relisted again and became a military policeman in the 24th MP Co.

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Student's letter helps WWII vet receive medals after 67 years

Student's letter helps WWII vet receive medals after 67 years

(In the photo above, Charles Mowbray talks with Leanna Morris, who helped the World War II veteran receive his medals. Photo by Tracy Sahler/Wicomico County Public Schools) For Charles Mowbray, deciding to share his old battle tales cracked opened history for a group of precocious grade school children attempting to preserve veterans’ stories. For him, helping a friend’s daughters with a school project meant he finally got the recognition he had earned nearly seven decades prior. The many years before, Mowbray kept all the memories to himself.

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Army veteran reunites with wartime friend after six decades

Army veteran reunites with wartime friend after six decades

Tom Stratos joined the Army in 1943 and was discharged on April 18, 1946. Though he immediately signed up for the active reserves, with his final discharge in 1952, April 18 was the date he would leave his friend Ethel Turlis - seemingly forever. Stratos was the son of Greek immigrants, and Tacoma, Wash., near where he'd been stationed at Fort Lewis, boasted a large Greek community. A family friend from boyhood, his friendship with Ethel had grown during his time in service. But time went on. He married his wife Helen and had a family.

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A barber's secrets nearly prove deadly to distinguished Marine and his men

Leroy Blessing enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950, when he was 17. He hadn't yet completed high school. "What was I like as a 17-year-old? A rambunctious kid," Blessing said. "I felt like I wasn’t getting the excitement that I needed in high school. The Marines were the best of all the outfits and I wanted to be the best, so I went down and signed up." The decision he made as a teenager led to a 20-year career in the military, including tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam. After Korea, he met his wife Edna on a blind date. They were married for 50 years.

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Army Reserves vet continued to serve country as engineer for nearly 30 years after honorable discharge

Upon graduating from Northeastern University with a BSCE in 1960, I immediately lost my temporary draft deferment, joined a local U.S. Army Reserve Unit and was assigned to heavy weapons. A few days before my six-month active duty training obligation was to end at Fort Jackson, S.C., President John F. Kennedy put my unit on alert. It was April 1961, and we had no idea why. But we got our gear together and waited. It was canceled within a few days, to our relief.

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Marine serves country in Vietnam, then again in Iraq to honor long-held promise

Marine serves country in Vietnam, then again in Iraq to honor long-held promise

In 1966, I was assigned to a new engineer battalion that was being formed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. We were deployed to Chu Lai, Vietnam. I spent 13 bloody months in country, returned to the United States in 1967 and was honorably discharged as a sergeant E-5 in 1968. That year, I joined the Indianapolis Police Department, where I worked for 32 years.

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Strategic Air Command vet recounts nuclear weapons training mission

As a member of the Strategic Air Command during the 1950s, I was assigned to a B-36 bomber crew as an electronic counter-measures specialist. The B-36 “Peacemaker” is one of the largest American warplanes ever built. Our mission was to be prepared at all times to counter communist aggression. On one mission, we had complete the run-up of all the engines. We made our final turn to line up on the runway. Once we were in the air and had retracted the landing gear, I was tasked with searching the bomb bay area, concerned with possible hydraulic leaks or gas fumes.

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One soldier learns at Anzio that war is not at all like the movies

One soldier learns at Anzio that war is not at all like the movies

Though Guadalupe Coy was drafted into the Army during World War II, he was pretty excited about the chance to go overseas. Born in Juarez, Mexico, he’d grown up in the small town of El Campo, Texas. He’d seen the world and the war through movies--glamorous, noble, fun. “I had watched a lot of movies about the war,” Coy said. “I thought it was going to be fun. It wasn’t, but - you know how teenagers are.

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Transatlantic love story: WWII veterans to celebrate 70 years of marriage

Transatlantic love story: WWII veterans to celebrate 70 years of marriage

William Hastings joined the Army in 1942 to beat the draft. After training in the Army Air Corps and serving in the vehicle squadron - teaching recruits how to drive equipment - all through Texas, he was shipped off to England. That’s where he met Joyce Hopwood. Joyce joined the British Army at age 16. During the Blitz, the Germans hit her mother and father’s home. Her then 3-year-old brother was deafened by the explosion and has not heard a word since. Her family lost its house. “We had flatbed lorrys, and we had guns on them.

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Marine proudly recalls service during World War II

Marine proudly recalls service during World War II

I was born, raised and educated in a small town in Ohio. I graduated from high school in June 1942. I worked at temporary jobs until I was drafted into service on Feb. 3, 1943, at the age of 19, in Akron, Ohio. Back then, every branch of the service relied on the draft, not just the Army, so I was inducted into the Navy and sent to the Cleveland Induction Center for processing. While there I was selected for additional duty with the Marine Corps. I was sent to the Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island, S.C., for my initial training.

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Army court reporter witnesses the Indian independence movement

Army court reporter witnesses the Indian independence movement

At the tail-end of World War II, JAG court reporter Tom Hickey took a ship to India, a country at the threshold of independence, where he had been stationed. The ship had experienced high winds and choppy waters - the result of nearby hurricanes, and Hickey felt the effects. Hickey was sick and hadn’t eaten for three days when a familiar face appeared to help nurse him back to health.

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Korean War medic risks life and limb to protect fellow soldiers

Korean War medic risks life and limb to protect fellow soldiers

As the battle for the T-Bone Hill area began in North Korea, former Staff Sgt. Patrick “King” Sbarra, who served as a combat medic/rifleman helped a wounded soldier move to safety behind a knocked-out friendly tank, where Sbarra treated and bandaged the wound. En route back to friendly lines, enemy shells exploded close by, and Sbarra used his own body to shield the wounded soldier until they reached American lines. There, Sbarra volunteered to lead a squad of ammo bearers back out across the valley floor to the battle area.

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80-year-old veteran still serving

80-year-old veteran still serving

I enlisted into the U.S. Navy on my 17th birthday. I was sworn in at Columbus, Ohio, and received my recruit training at Great Lakes, Ill. The war in Korea heated up while I was in recruit training, and two weeks prior to graduation we were informed that all post-graduation orders and “boot leave” were canceled. My Company 107 was merged with Company 108, and after graduation all 120 men were troop-trained to Norfolk, Va. The following morning, we were marched to Pier 7 and found ourselves looking up at the biggest ship any of us had ever seen.

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Ralph Bartels, World War II veteran

Ralph Bartels, World War II veteran

I was born in Maynard, Iowa, and graduated from Maynard High School. I enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 13, 1943, at Camp Dodge in Iowa. My boot camp training was at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock, Ark. After basic I was sent to Camp Claiborne in Louisiana for engineer training. We lived in tents near a swamp amidst the snakes and alligators. In June 1943 I was reassigned to Yuma, Ariz., for training. While at Yuma we built hospitals and had desert maneuvers. On Sept. 28, 1943, I reported to Camp Shanks in New York in preparation for movement overseas.

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Vietnam veteran is finally home

Vietnam veteran is finally home

I was born in Waukon, Iowa, and graduated from high school in my hometown of Lansing, Iowa. After completing air conditioning school in Eau Claire, Wisc., I enlisted in the U.S. Navy on May 7, 1969. Upon completion of basic training in San Diego, I reported for duty aboard USS Theodore E. Chandler {DD717}, a destroyer stationed in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 5, 1969. Chandler would be my home for the next four years. The ship left Long Beach en route to Vietnam on Sept. 26, 1969. Our deployments were about seven months long. While in the combat zone we received tax-free combat pay.

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Gardening in the South Pacific during WWII

Gardening in the South Pacific during WWII

By William Sabel I was instrumental in introducing watermelons to the natives on a lonely South Pacific island during World War II. My mission was to establish a vegetable farm in the Solomons on the island of Kolombangara for the express purpose of furnishing fresh garden produce for the base hospital at Munda. It came about in this way: Prior to my induction into the Army in April 14, 1941, I was a poultry farmer and always interested in gardening.

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60th anniversary of Korean War armistice

60th anniversary of Korean War armistice

July 27 is a day when there will be no parades, no picnics, no speeches and no flags displayed. But to a very special group of people who served and fought for America, July 27, 1953, is the day that the Korean War ended. Those families who lost a loved one in that far-off country will not celebrate, but remember the prayers, pain and tears shed for their loved ones lost so long ago. Many of you who are reading this may not have been born at the time of the Korean War. You will rightly think that 60 years is a long time ago. In Korea, I fought in a war in which I was wounded.

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WWII intell vet remembers bright spot after Operation Dragoon

WWII intell vet remembers bright spot after Operation Dragoon

As an aerial photo interpreter with the Army Air Corps, we had been photographing southern France for weeks, so we had known what was coming when we were ordered to move on Aug. 10, 1944. That Aug. 15, southern France was invaded with Operation Dragoon: paratroopers, vessels and combat ships, American, British and French troops, commandos and rangers. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was there observing the landings. Our job was to transfer information found in our aerial photographs to the ground troops and planes.

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After almost 70 years, Merchant Marine finally honored at national memorial

After almost 70 years, Merchant Marine finally honored at national memorial

Nearly seven decades after James Van Splunder decided to join the Merchant Marines rather than be drafted by the Army, he journeyed from his home in Holland, N.Y., to Washington, D.C., to lay a wreath on the World War II Memorial in a special ceremony dedicated to those veterans who gave their lives. Overlooking the fountains, the arches and granite of the memorial, in the shadow of the Washington Monument and of hindsight, it’s easy to follow the trajectory backward, but at age 19, Van Splunder was just a kid making a decision like any other. “Well, you know, when you’re young your expe

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