More veterans would sign up with the VA if the VA did not make it such an absolute hell to submit the paperwork. I had to argue with my local veterans assistance office just to get them to give me the forms to fillout.
I'm 90 years old, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
My father was a large operator in the sawmilling and timber industry across northern Virginia. I graduated from high school in Fairfax, Va., in 1941, and worked with him handling heavy oak lumber the following year. This work made me bull-strong and solid as a rock.
Then came my papers from Uncle Sam: "I want you!" I was drafted and sent to Camp (now Ft.) Hood, Texas. There, I joined the 113th Cavalry. We trained in recon, strategy and tactics.
At 96 years old, Sherwood Davies has a sharp memory and has seen a lot: Europe during World War II and the tuberculosis sanitarium in the Adirondacks and Dwight Eisenhower. He remembers exactly where he was when King George VI declared war on Germany - a speech now famous in a film with Colin Firth.
Even so, the Patriot Flight he took to Washington, D.C., in June ranks as a memory to cherish.
Back in 1943 I turned 18 years old, which was just the right age for induction into the military service. The military was trying to determine where each outfit was going to be shipped so they were building up their divisions, companies and batteries, with the number of people they needed.
I came from a large family of nine - four girls and five boys. Four boys served in the military. Two were in the Army, one was in the Navy, one was in the Marines, and three of my sisters were married to servicemen. One brother was killed in Anzio, Italy, in 1944.
World War II Army veteran James Sansom received the "Legion d'Honneur" from the French government. These medals, the highest France bestows, will honor Americans who helped liberate the country during WWII. Sansom and 13 others received the medals on Feb. 20 at a ceremony at the state capital building in Raleigh, N.C.
Sansom crossed Omaha Beach on June 11, 1944. He served in four battles, eventually captured as a prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge. He was liberated from a Stalag, a German POW camp, on April 15, 1945.
Photo | Some Operation Power Pack veterans in May 2014 at the 82nd Airborne Museum, in front of a C123 Aircraft
From left to right: Gary Niethammer, Gib Lovell, Walt Rauscher, Jim Drainer, Bruce Harrell, John Urbach, Bob Hawkins, Fred Bolland, Ed Szalno and Ken Densmore
The 50th anniversary ceremonies for 82nd Airborne veterans who served in Operation Power Pack will be in May 2015 during All-American Week at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.
Operation Power Pack was a Marine and Airborne combat and stability mission, which lasted more than a year, in the Dominican Republic.
I am writing my history in the U.S. Navy. I will tell and swear by the exact truth. I joined the service in 1952 in Burlington, Iowa. Passed the test in Des Moines, Iowa, and flew to San Diego, Calif., for basic training for 12 weeks. At the finish, I was stationed aboard the USS Swift AM 122, home port of Long Beach, Calif. The vessel was an auk-class minesweeper. It could sweep three different types of mines, including acoustic and magnetic.
My station at minesweep detail was putting explosive cutters on the starboard wire.
My name is Clarence Pressgrove and I’m 90 years old, a disabled veteran and an ex-POW of the Japanese. I was drafted in 1943.
On March 9, 1945, we were to bomb an aircraft factory, but as the bombardier said bombs away, the light came on. Something was wrong. He said, “Press” —that was my nickname — “go in the bomb bay and see what’s going on.” I saw two live bombs back there. If there was turbulence, we’d all be blown up, so he sent me to disarm them — at 17,000 feet, saving 11 men and the plane.
Earl Dahme celebrated 70 years of Legion membership this April, and received recognition from national headquarters.
Dahme joined the Legion in 1944, the same year he enlisted in the Navy. Four of his brothers were in the Army. One was a Marine. But Dahme knew for him, the Navy was the right outfit.
"I liked their cap, their winter cap and everything about them. Even nowadays I see a Navy (person) on TV or something — man, I stop and find out what it's about," he said.
"I guess it was just like everything else," he said.
This Memorial Day, I was privileged to give the keynote remarks on the Vietnam War at the National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco. It was a beautiful day, and over 3,000 attended.
I served two combat tours in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970, as infantry platoon leader and company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and the First Cavalry Division.
Pigeons swoop, dart and soar over and through World War II veteran Ed Schmidt’s life. The birds fascinated him in childhood, determined his job in the military, and pinned his career.
Schmidt’s neighbor growing up, Homer Mann, had pigeons, and as a boy Schmidt was fascinated by them. Though he initially kept his distance, shy, by age 6 he eventually talked to Mann.
“Little by little I got a little braver, I guess. ... And pretty soon I had pigeons,” Schmidt said.
He learned to train them to know where they lived, then would take them away and set them free.
The doctor's comment, without any reason given or documented, could have sealed Herman Prager's fate in 1942: not fit to perform active duty.
Prager had been at Louisiana State University about a month when he received a recommendation to Annapolis from a local politician, but this physical kept him from attending the Naval Academy. Prager still isn't sure why the doctor made that decision.
"He never did say what was wrong," Prager said. His parents asked him to wait until after the holidays to try joining the Navy again.
Army veteran Johnny Brooks was drafted only three weeks after his 20th birthday, three weeks after marrying his high school sweetheart, Flora.
In 1969, Johnny had been in Vietnam for less than three months when his whole company came under attack, Flora said. He was shot in the back and both legs in Vietnam. One leg was amputated in Japan, another in San Francisco. The blood loss would lead to a cardiac respiratory arrest a month after the attack, causing brain damage.
When the Korean War started in June 1950, I, along with a shipload of men whose orders had already been cut, loaded the USNS Buckner in San Francisco Harbor. We set sail for Okinawa.
During the post-World War II occupation of Japan, regiments were in a peacetime mode: two battalions instead of three.
We new arrivals were formed into a third battalion of the 29th. The officers and NCOs were canonized from other units on the island, none of which were Infantry.
If a commander is asked to send off men, is he going to send his best men? Toilets were flushed!
Ed Johann was aboard USS Solace, a hospital ship, in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese military attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Though he rescued many casualties, what he remembers most aren't the heroics, but the horrors, the fires, the men. He was only 17.
Johann had joined the military before the war to receive the salary - $21 a month, sending $10 home each month to his parents.
One night about 50 years ago this March, in the Chorwon area in North Korea, there was an earthquake. I was serving with the Third Infantry Division. The next morning - early - I crawled out of my foxhole, made it to mess hall and asked my sergeant if I could go off premises and look around. He said OK.
I walked about a quarter or three-eighths of a mile parallel to the frontline trench, and I saw some fresh dirt to my right. I went about 200 yards and there was a hole in the ground about 40 or 50 feet across, and the dirt on top of it had fallen against the side nearest me.
An American soldier only dies when they are forgotten, and a Tomb Guard never forgets. These men and women are few, only 621 of them have stood watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier since 1958. But why do they remember? Why do they stand guard 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day? These questions and more were answered by the newest of the Tomb Guards, or Sentinels — Riley Krebsbach.
Having served in the U.S. Coast Guard regular active duty from July 1968 to July 1972, it was no surprise when the second cutter I was stationed on, a 378-foot weather cutter, the USCGC Morgenthau - then based at the former Governor's Island in New York City - was ordered to set sail for Vietnam in 1970.
As with most servicemen going overseas for the first time on a war mission, I, too, was apprehensive. It was, for me, going into the unknown and uncharted territory. I did't know what to expect or encounter, of course, and wondered what our chances of a safe return would be.
Vietnam veteran Gary Wetzel and his wife, Kathy’s, act of kindness would sprout a seemingly unlikely but deep friendship with a “boisterous” and “sassy” 4-year-old and her family.
But Gary, a Medal of Honor recipient, has been working to help others for nearly 50 years. He often speaks with school groups about military history and patriotism.