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My Time in Uniform

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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WWII vet spends his service in the water, trains as substitute Frogman

When Navy SEALs took down Osama bin Laden, Ernest G. Sealo, a former servicemember in the Army was reminded of his time as a substitute Navy Frogman, which the SEALs descend from. Near the end of World War II, Sealo was a soldier stationed in Calcutta, when India was still under British domination. There, a monthly newspaper announced a swimming competition. It would be in Agra, near the Taj Mahal. As a former member of the Harlem YMCA and his high school swim team, Sealo decided to participate.

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Couple torn apart during war reunites more than 50 years later

Couple torn apart during war reunites more than 50 years later

When Bill Angle was flicking through the newspaper after his wife’s death, he was surprised to notice one obituary: his high school sweetheart’s husband. After steeling his nerves for two days, he called Carolyn, the girl he had met at an outdoor film more than 50 years before. “She was a very beautiful brunette and wasn’t very big. She was the small sort,” Bill said. He asked someone who she was, introduced himself, and offered her a ride home. “And that’s how it started,” he said. That was 1941.

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Lt. Col. David Kramer, West Point (1988-1992), U.S. Army (1992-present)

Lt. Col. David Kramer, West Point (1988-1992), U.S. Army (1992-present)

Lt. Col. David Kramer was born in Moline, Ill. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics, and proceeded to Fort Rucker for initial entry rotary wing training in the UH-1 Huey. After graduating from flight school as an AH-1F Cobra pilot, he reported to Korea in November 1993, and was assigned to 1-2 Aviation Regiment (Attack) (2d Infantry Division). There he served as an attack platoon leader in B Company and then as a battalion assistant S3 operations officer.

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WWII veteran serves country through commemorating family, other servicemembers

WWII veteran serves country through commemorating family, other servicemembers

After my six weeks training at Hunter College in Bronx, N.Y., I was assigned to U.S. Navy Communications in Washington, D.C., through WAVES. I worked alongside the reflection pool near the Lincoln Memorial as a yeoman third class. Later the rating was changed to Specialist Q and I was honorably discharged Specialist Q first class. I remember so well after my service, in December 1945, the first thing I did was to join the American Legion, a Jane Delano post, in Hartford, Conn. I still have my 1946 membership card after 67 years. It was an all women’s veteran post.

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Remember Them: Memorial Day 2013

Remember Them:  Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day 2013 Those who gave us this day are gone. They rest forever since that day the honor guard fired the rifles and the bugler blew taps over them. Those Veterans that remain wait for that day. The responsibility of remembering the fallen is not only the duty of our American Legions, VFW Posts or any Veterans organization, but of all of us. We have to give to all those Veterans who are no longer with us, and those Veterans still living, all the praise and honor they earned. This is what today, Memorial Day, represents.

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From Camp Pendleton to interesting ships to Honor Guard

From Camp Pendleton to interesting ships to Honor Guard

I was a young FMF Navy Hospital Corpsman assigned to the 1/9 C in 1981 and transferred to the 1/3 A. And I proudly served. I was told by my recruiter "Navy hospitals on the beach with pretty nurses." Ha! Being an ex/former Marine I should have known better ... YEP! That's correct my first tour was USMC 1978 at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif. And boy did I have a blast, especially trying to find my barracks at last call. Between the Corps and the Navy I served on some interesting ships.

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