NVMM Reads: “H is for Honor”

Author Devin Scillian grew up in a military family and knows what it is like to have a career military officer for a parent. His book, “H is for Honor,” details the history of each branch of the United States Armed Forces with colorful illustrations by Victor Juhasz. Readers will explore the lingo used by those in the Armed Forces and their families, learn why Veterans are an important connection to our past, and additional military knowledge. Each letter of the alphabet provides an important connection to Veterans and those that love and support the people who answer the call of duty.

Extend Your Learning:

  • What did you learn by reading the edges of the pages that feature more information about the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Why is being called a ‘Brat’ something that makes a military child proud?
  • What was your favorite letter to learn about?
  • What letter were you most surprised by?
Information Systems Technician (Submarine) 1st Class Donald Truman reunites with loved ones during the return of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) to its homeport in Bremerton, Washington, Dec. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Sophia H. Brooks)

Learn more about each branch of the U.S. Military.

Read our post from the Month of the Military Child and learn about the resilience of our military children

Watch Staff Sergeant Matthew Montague read the book aloud!

Can you come up with another military related word for each letter of the alphabet that was not included in this book?

Check out more activities provided by Sleeping Bear Press.

Staff Spotlight: Celeste Bradshaw, Volunteer Coordinator

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Celeste, our Volunteer Coordinator.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: The Great Hall, for sure, because of our gorgeous curtain wall of glass and the view of downtown Columbus (especially at night)! I also enjoy looking at the temporary exhibit space downstairs, getting to look up and seeing the beautiful design as the exhibits change throughout the years.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Friendly. Dedicated. Bubbly.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: I am an introvert.

Q: We feature an #NVMMReads recommendation every month, what is a book that you think everyone should have on their “must-read” list?  

A: “A Woman of No Importance” by Sonia Purnell! It’s about an American female spy during WWII in France; a truly remarkable patriot with an exceptional life.  

Q: What was the last movie you watched?  

A: “The Hobbit : Desolation of Smaug.”

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: Tinkerbell.  She can sprinkle me with pixie dust and I can fly!

Q: What are your go-to karaoke songs?

A: Nope. Just nope.

NVMM Reads: “Give Me a Fast Ship”

Each year on October 13, we celebrate the birthday of the U.S. Navy, recognizing the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775. Although it was disbanded after the Revolutionary War and reestablished as the Department of the Navy in April 1798, the value of the U.S. Navy can never be forgotten.

Names like John Barry, John Paul Jones, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and Gustavus Conyngham don’t often come to mind when thinking of the heroes of the American Revolution. However, their stories along with the experiences of other men bring the pages of McGrath’s meticulously researched exploration of the Continental Navy to life in stirring detail. Starting out as an idea, reaching a high point of nearly sixty ships, and ending the war with just two ships, McGrath takes readers on a narrative journey that traces the highs and lows of the Continental Navy over the course of its first ten years.

“Give Me a Fast Ship” was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award for Naval Literature in 2016, presented to writings deemed by the Naval Order of the United States New York Commandery to have “made a substantial contribution to the preservation of the history and traditions of the United States Navy.” We encourage you to read this book, and continue to explore the notions of duty, honor, citizenship and sacrifice that link the patriots of 1776 with the service members of today.

Extend Your Knowledge:

NVMM Reads: “Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero”

As the NVMM prepares to present our second annual Pets and Vets Week on October 19 – 22, 2022, we are reading the fascinating story of Sergeant Reckless, the mare who became a U.S. Marine and is the only animal to officially hold a military rank. Just like every other enlisted Marine, Reckless started out as a private and had to earn her promotions. Known for her enormous appetite, determined work ethic and unbreakable bond with her fellow Marines, Sergeant Reckless epitomized the Marine Corps motto of Semper Fidelis – Ever Faithful.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • Why were the U.S. Marines fighting in Korea?
  • What role did Sergeant Reckless and other horses play during the war?
  • Why was the horse named Reckless?

Learn more about the different Marine Corps Ranks.

Read our post from earlier this year about the Korean War.

Check out this website dedicated to Sergeant Reckless to learn more about the heroic mare!

Test your knowledge to find out what other animals have served in the military.

Staff Spotlight: Lesley Moore, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Lesley, our Executive Assistant to the President & CEO.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: My favorite place in the museum is the rooftop.  Depending on what is happening, it can be tranquil or lively. Not to mention, it gives one the opportunity to get a different view of the city!

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Outgoing. Innovative. Patient.

Q: Do you think that you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: Yes!  First, I am a very good shot so I think I would be able to reduce their population, LOL. Lastly, I love to go in the kitchen and play “Chopped” so I would be able to use what is available to survive. 

Q: If you could recommend one book that should be on everyone’s reading list, what would it be?

A: “The Great Santini” by Pati Conroy.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: I played football as a youth (cornerback).

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: Misty Knight (Marvel 1975).  She experiences a lot of adversity but does not let it stop her from pursuing justice. Even if she sometimes must do things her own way to get the job done!

Q: What was the last movie you watched?  

A: “The Last Samurai.”

Celebrating 75 Years of the U.S. Air Force: Visiting the NMUSAF

The NVMM hit the road once again this week as we traveled to the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF). Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just outside of Dayton and only about 60 miles west of Columbus, the NMUSAF is the largest military aviation museum in the world. With more than 350 aircraft and thousands of artifacts on display, the museum is an excellent place to celebrate 75 years of our nation’s Air Force.

After listening to the unique stories of USAF Veterans told at the NVMM and on our website, we wanted to experience what it’s like to sit in the cockpit of an Air Force aircraft. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to do that at the NMUSAF!

Check out this video of us hopping into the cockpits of some of the most recognizable military aircraft in our nation’s history & click on the aircrafts below to learn more:

T-38 Talon
Boeing B-1B Lancer
F-111A Aardvark
LTV A-7D Corsair II
F-16

Extend Your Learning:

NVMM Reads: “Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II”

“Theirs was a loss compounded by uncertainty and unresolved by time. When he scoured the archipelago with sonar, when he hung in the open doorway of a Cessna, when he slogged through the jungle and traversed the channel on yet another rainy day, he wasn’t searching to the dead. He was searching for the living.”

Part thrilling search and recovery mission, part World War II history, “Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II” seamlessly transitions between the stories of the men who vanished in the Pacific Theater of war on September 1, 1944, and those whose lives remain affected by the mystery of their disappearance more than 50 years later. As we recognize National POW/MIA Recognition Day, add this book to your reading list as it poignantly reveals the struggles of families who grapple with the uncertainty of what happened to a loved one.

Extend Your Knowledge:

  • In an interview with Harper’s Magazine, Hylton answers six questions about the book.
  • Check out this author talk hosted by the New York Public Library in 2014 in which Hylton talks about the book.

Celebrating 75 Years of the U.S. Air Force: Civil Air Patrol

September 18, 2022 marks the 75th birthday of the U.S.A.F. as an independent branch of our military. Help us celebrate their history and impact throughout the month!

The NVMM went on the road this week to watch the Central Ohio Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) conduct training exercises. Since May 26, 1948, the CAP has been the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and has three main missions:

Consisting of 52 wings, one for every state, including Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, the Civil Air Patrol is further broken down into groups, squadrons, and flights. The Central Ohio Squadron is stationed in Columbus at The Ohio State University Airport where the university donates hangar space to the nonprofit organization.

Open to Veterans and civilians alike, the CAP offers a way for people as young as 12 years old to help their community and serve their country. Scott Jones, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and CAP Wing Safety Officer, explained one of his reasons for volunteering when he told us, “The Air Force had given me a lot in my life to include a lot of skills I got for free, and so I felt it important for me to return some of those skill back to the Air Force and try to prepare the next generation to fly.”

Learn more about the Civil Air Patrol:

Extend Your Learning:

Celebrating 75 Years of the U.S. Air Force: History and Lineage

September 18, 2022 marks the 75th birthday of the U.S.A.F. as an independent branch of our military. Help us celebrate their history and impact throughout the month!

As we honor the United States Air Force for 75 years of dedicated service as a branch of the military, it is important to realize that the story of the Air Force begins long before it became an official branch on September 18, 1947.  The Air Force traces its lineage back to the first gliders and aeroplanes produced by Orville and Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio at the turn of the 20th century.

Wright Glider at Ketty Hawk, 1902

The drive and passion of the Wright Brothers to innovate and push the bounds of technology into a new frontier continued as airplanes quickly became integrated into the military. Early on, there were many doubts within the military community that aircraft could be an effective weapon, and many believed they were a gimmick at best. Major George Owen Squier, the Executive Officer to the Army Signal Corps, is credited with the first major push to create the United States Air Force by convincing the Army Signal Corps commander to establish the first heavier than air unit on August 1, 1907.

Aircrew and pilots were pioneers in this new endeavor, and it was a dangerous profession. Just one year later, Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge became the first military member killed in an aircraft crash on September 17, 1908. Death during training and practice was not uncommon, but the perseverance and dedication to constantly push the boundaries of this new technology and profession was never in question. From the experience gained through these unfortunate events, the formation of the 1st Aero Squadron was ordered in Texas City on March 5, 1913 for defense against escalating tensions with Mexico.  

Experiences in World War I and further increases in technology allowed proponents of air power like Brigadier General Billy Mitchel, to push the boundaries of what was expected of the Air Force. On July 21, 1921 Mitchell led a trial of bombers to sink several German ships at the end of the Great War and even sunk the battleship SMS Ostfriesland.

Flying aces like Eddie Rickenbacker captured the imagination of the American public, and with 26 enemy planes shot down, proved the worth of aerial combat.

The interwar years saw even greater advances in aircraft technology, with the first all metal aircraft and mono-wing designs replacing the canvas and cloth biplanes. Bombing crews could strike directly at enemy production facilities, fighter pilots flew powerful and complicated machines, and ground crews were required to keep both in operational shape. The creation of the Army Air Forces in 1941 made the Air Force its own separate branch within the Army and gave it the ability to pursue its own needs.

Edward C. Gleed, Tuskegee Airman, photo credit Ghost of WW2 Colourized Photo
Tuskegee Airman during Korean War
WASPs

During this time, the military began to see an expansion of roles for African Americans and women. For instance, the Tuskegee Airmen became the first African American military aviators when the 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed on March 19, 1941.  The following year the first women began flying for the military, forming the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1943. As pilots became more experienced, the aircraft became more complex, and by the end of the war the Jet Age had begun. Nuclear weapons were now in existence and only the Air Force could effectively support that mission.

Finally, on September 18, 1947, the United States Air Force was formally established as its own independent branch of the military. With the new title, the innovation that defined the air forces for the previous half century did not stop, if anything, it accelerated. Over the years, air-to-air refueling was perfected, while radar, intelligence, and missile technology changed the working landscape for those serving in the Air Force.

Over time, more women became pilots and eventually served in combat roles. Today, the systems Air Force servicemembers work with continues to be defined by their complexity. Thanks to the professionalism and dedication of all our members, no U.S. troop has been attacked by enemy aircraft since 1953. As we celebrate the Air Force’s 75th birthday, let us remember where we came from to inspire us to reach even greater heights.

At the NVMM, we want to thank all military aviators for their sacrifice and service to our nation. Come learn more about the Air Force history through stories told at the NVMM or found on our website.

KC-135 refueling 2 F-16s during Red Flag, 2022

Watch our crash-course video on the history of the U.S.A.F.:

Check out our Word Cloud (What you think when you hear “Air Force”):

Add yours here!

Extend Your Learning:

NVMM Reads: “America’s White Table”

Listen to this reading of “America’s White Table” by the Columbus Metropolitan Library and join us in honoring the sacrifice made by American prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action. Margot Theis Raven’s heartfelt story of a young girl learning about her uncle’s experience as a POW during the Vietnam War reveals the meaning behind the white table that can be found in the dining halls of the Armed Forces across the nation. Rather than basing the story on one Veteran’s experience, the author instead chose to compile different service members’ acts of heroism during the war to represent all branches of the military.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • What does each item on the table represent?
  • What would you add to the table to honor the brave men and women who have served our country?
  • Can you think of other symbols that you see in your everyday life? What do certain objects mean to you?
  • Why is is important to remember and honor the Americans who were prisoners of war or those who never returned home?
  • Ask a Veteran in your life what the symbolism of the white table means to them.

Visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum and see what the POW/MIA Table looks like in person. While you’re here, discover stories of service and sacrifice of Veterans from the American Revolution to the present.

Learn more about the POW experience in Vietnam from the firsthand account of Colonel Tom Moe, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a specific word or phrase.

Check out this worksheet from Arkansas PBS and try writing your own acrostic poem or draw a picture of a hero in your community.

If you’re one of our central Ohio neighbors, check out the book at your local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library where the book is widely available! Then come in to the NVMM and learn more about the importance of our POW/MIA Table or any of the other unique Veteran stories that can be found throughout American history. 

Staff Spotlight: Maureen Mason, Membership Coordinator

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Maureen, our Membership Coordinator.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: My favorite place in the museum is inside of our entrance. Not only can you get an incredible view of our architecture and our Guest Experience team, but you can see the look on all of our guests faces as they enter – a true joy!

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Surprising. Personable. Fun.

Q: Do you think that you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: I would most certainly perish. I’m always trying to help others, so I would give shelter to too many people or give away all of my supplies. If a zombie came after me, I’d probably hand my Hand over to them so they wouldn’t starve!

Q: If you could recommend one book that should be on everyone’s reading list, what would it be?

A: “The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow,” written by coauthors Krystyna Chiger and Daniel Paisner. It was a book that changed my career trajectory from Music Education to History.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?

A: People being rude to strangers Life is too short and you never know what someone may be going through.

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: It is a toss up between two people: John McClane from the “Die Hard” series or Chandler Bing from “Friends”. John McClane would be loyal and always have my back. Chandler Bing would make life more fun and always make me laugh.

Q: Based on the Law of the Seven Degrees of Separation, who is someone notable that you know Explain.

A: I actually grew up with some great musical influences. The Cassidy’s are relatives of mine!

NVMM Reads: “Always Faithful”

This month, we are sharing Tom Schueman’s “Always Faithful,” a book that unpacks the struggles of U.S. allies attempting to escape the Taliban through determination and fearless camaraderie. When the United States hastily withdrew from the Middle East, many Afghans who worked with American forces were left behind, scrambling for security and struggling for stability under a terrorist regime. Afghanistan’s immediate return to Taliban rule left many of its citizens who aided U.S. military efforts unable to use visas they were promised, putting them at incredible risk for capture and execution.

Released on August 9, “Always Faithful” documents the two converging lives of U.S. Marine Major Tom Schueman and Zainullah “Zak” Zaki, an interpreter who assisted Schueman throughout his service in Afghanistan. Both Schueman and Zaki were raised in environments brimming with chaos and uncertainty, which created within them a sense of fearless independence. Upon joining the American forces, they became friends and loyal comrades, bonding over their past experiences and succeeding together in combat. They each found an avenue through combat leadership to fulfill their desires for meaning and purpose in their lives. Schueman and Zaki were a close and formidable team, each saving the life of the other on several occasions.     

Tom and Zak teamed up again to write “Always Faithful,” which dives deeper into their shared combat experiences and the lengthy process of bringing Zak and his family to the United States in August of 2021. After Schueman was shipped home from Afghanistan, Zak continued to serve with American forces in his home country. Later that summer as American troops began a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, Zak’s family was one of many stranded when the Taliban seized control. Unable to bear the thought of what Zak would endure upon capture, Tom worked tirelessly to bring him, his wife and four small children safety to the United States. After starting out twice for the airport on foot and turning back due to enemy gunfire, Zak tried once more. Tom was able to connect with someone on the ground at the airport willing to look for Zak and his family. Schueman’s contact spotted Zak and was able to get them through the throng of people attempting to depart Afghanistan.

Since his early years serving with the Marines, Schueman has been vocal about his journey with the United States armed forces. In addition to his June Rally Point conversation with us, he has shared his story during podcasts and interviews. Schueman is notorious for being genuinely down-to-earth and honest about changing the negative stigma surrounding Veterans and their involvement in combat. “Always Faithful” unveils yet another facet of the Veteran experience through the shared bonds and relationship between Schueman and Zaki, and we highly recommend it to you this month.

NVMM Reads: “Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story”

Photo: Albert Whitman & Company

Each year on August 14, we honor the Navajo Code Talkers who were called into service in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Joseph Bruchac’s true story of these brave men begins with Chester Nez as a boy attending boarding school where he was repeatedly told “Navajo is bad! Speak only English!” Chester’s refusal to give up his native language and commitment to his culture gave him courage to serve his country, strength to face the horrors of war, and support when transitioning back home, not to mention the tools to create an unbreakable military code that helped the United States achieve victory. Throughout the story, the author reveals how Chester is both proud that he never gave up his language and proud to serve the country that told him that very language was worthless.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about Chester’s story.

  • Who were the other Navajo Code Talkers?
  • Why did these men volunteer to serve in the Marines?
  • Would you have done the same thing in their situation?
  • What makes a good secret code?
  • Why has the U.S. Military used secret code throughout its history?
  • Can you think of any other secret codes?

Conduct research to learn more about Chester Nez and the other Navajo Code Talkers who helped the United States achieve victory in World War II.

Try making your own secret code and see if anyone can crack it.

Don’t know where to start? Create your own version of the alphabet! For example, make “A” a square, “B” a triangle, and so on until you have all 26 letters. From there, you can put together your images/shapes into different combinations to spell out words.

You can make codes out of more than just images. Try sounds or mixing up letters.

For inspiration making you own code, take a look in the back of the book to see more about the Navajo Code.

If you’re one of our central Ohio neighbors, check out the book at your local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library where the book is widely available! Then come in to the NVMM and learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers or any of the other unique Veteran stories that can be found throughout American history. 

Staff Spotlight: Mason Farr, Education and Outreach Manager

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Mason, our Education and Outreach Manager.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I’ve been tracking the Museum’s progress since 2017 when I still lived in Washington, DC and worked for the U.S. Army Center of Military History. I knew I would be moving back to Columbus, and while I was working in the Pentagon someone mentioned that a new national museum for Veterans was being built there. I thought that would be the perfect place for me.

It was extremely rewarding to work as a civilian alongside both active duty servicemembers and Veterans to help tell their stories, and I knew I wanted to find opportunities to continue that mission.

Q: What inspired you to go into education?

A: I have always enjoyed sharing my passion for history with others. While I briefly considered becoming a high school teacher in college, I preferred the idea of interacting with students and adults in a less formal learning environment.

I’ve been fortunate to have positions sharing stories and engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds in museums, historic houses, and even government institutions.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Enthusiastic. Curious. Dad.

Q: Do you think that you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: Probably not. I don’t have much experience with the survival skills that I think would be necessary if a zombie apocalypse occurred.

Q: If you could recommend one book that should be on everyone’s reading list, what would it be?

A: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Q: If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would you choose and why?

A: Anyone on the 2016 Chicago Cubs on the day they won the World Series! As a lifelong Cubs fan, it would be amazing to be part of that celebration.

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: The Great Hall. Stacy Pearsall’s portraits of men and women as they were when they served and again as civilians is a powerful experience that sets the stage for what the Museum is all about. It’s also tough to beat the view of the Scioto Mile that can be seen through the windows.

Staff Spotlight: Taylor Shaw, Museum Educator

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Taylor, our Museum Educator.

Q: You recently came back from a deployment with the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Do you have any advice for those in the military who might be preparing for their first deployment?

A: Pack light! You really don’t need anything other than your issued items and about a weeks’ worth of gym clothes. Seeing people try to drag 4 or more bags while in-transit was always humorous. And also consider using a trash bag or two as a liner. You never know when your stuff is going to get stuck outside.

Be sure that your family is for your deployment just as much as you are. Take the time to make sure they have goals, plans, and support in place. They are going through a massive change in their day to day lives as well. Realistic goals regarding fitness, education, and reading are always big ones that people aim for.

Q: What is the story behind the flag that you brought back from your deployment?

A: In January, the United Arab Emirates and the base I was deployed to was attacked with ballistic missiles and suicide drones multiple times by the Houthis in Yemen. A squadron of F-22’s from the 1st Fighter Wing was deployed to our base in response as a show of force and to carry out several air operations. As an Aerial Port, we ended up being crucial in making sure that their support equipment was in place. We only had a 4-hour window to help them get everything where it needed to be. Due to the efforts my Airman put into helping them over 3 months, they offered to fly us flags as a thank you. We were the only section as far as I’m aware they offered that for. I had one flown for my brother who was in the Army and one for the Museum.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Quiet. Nerdy. Dedicated.

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section on our website each month as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I haven’t had much time to read for fun between work, my graduate program, and a tabletop RPG campaign I’ll be running. But, I did pick up and start Brandon Sanderson’sStarsight a few weeks ago. I read the first book at some point and had fun with it.

Q: What fictional character do you relate best to and why?

A: The Lightfoot brothers from Onward have a special place in my heart because of the experiences that my own brother and I went through growing up with a father who passed away while we were very young.

Q: If you were a baseball player, what would your walkout song be?

A: Not sure if they would play this one but probably My Chemical Romance’s cover of “Desolation Row.” My backup would be the introduction to Sabaton’s “Red Baron” or Miracle of Sound’s “Road Rage.”

NVMM Reads: “Never Call Me a Hero”

To honor the World War II Battle of Midway 80th anniversary, we are reading “Never Call Me a Hero” by Captain Jack “Dusty” Kleiss. The last surviving dive-bomber from the Battle of Midway, Kleiss was compelled to tell his story in honor of his comrades. A majority of Kleiss’ memoir is focused his experience aboard the USS Enterprise, the Battle of Midway and his fellow dive-bombers of the Scouting Squadron.

Dusty was born in 1916 and grew up in Coffeyville, Kansas during the Great Depression. His life of service began at the age of 15, when he lied about his age in order to join the Kansas National Guard. He later was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1938. Kleiss became a highly accomplished pilot flying the Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber in Scouting Squadron Six attatched to the USS Enterprise.

Six months after Pearl Harbor was destroyed by Japan’s Imperial Navy, the United States was preparing to counter Japan’s attack through their occupation of the Midway Islands, an area between the then-U.S. territory in Hawaii and Japan. U.S. battle success at Midway fell heavily on a team of dive-bombers to sink Japan’s warships. They succeeded. All in all, Japan sank one U.S. ship while the United State’s team of dive-bombers were able to sink all four of Japan’s ships. Kliess was one of the most successful dive-bombers of the battle, striking three of four enemy warships with precision.

Throughout “Never Call Me a Hero,” Kliess reveals battle events from a first-person perspective. From the book jacket, “Plummeting through the air at 240 knots amid blistering anti-aircraft fire, the twenty-six-year-old pilot from USS Enterprise’s elite Scouting Squadron Six fixed on an invaluable target—the aircraft carrier Kaga, one of Japan’s most important capital ships. He released three bombs at the last possible instant, then desperately pulled out of his gut-wrenching 9-g dive. As his plane leveled out just above the roiling Pacific Ocean, Dusty’s perfectly placed bombs struck the carrier’s deck, and Kaga erupted into an inferno from which it would never recover.”

After arriving back on the Enterprise, Keliss would learn heartbreaking news about his best friend and 24 fellow naval aviators. He would continue, undaunted, to strike two more Japanese ships, earning him a place in history. Similar to many WWII Veterans, Dusty returned home, married, had children, and remained silent about his role in the war for decades.

Captain Kleiss was awarded the Navy Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942. He was married to his wife, Jean, until her passing in 2006 – more than 60 years. Kleiss planned to release his book for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway in June 2017, but he passed away at the age of 100 in 2016.

At the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, we connect visitors with the Veteran experiences. “Never Call me a Hero” serves to educate and connect readers to the experiences of an accomplished naval pilot in the early era of aviation. Even after persevering through high stakes, hard work, loss and sacrifice, Kleiss humbly asks that we “never call him a hero.”  So instead, we will call him a man who strove for excellence in all he did. We highly recommend reading “Never Call me a Hero” this month to gain a firsthand glimpse into events that shaped our world from an incredible Veteran who was there and chose to share his story in remembrance of those with whom he served.

Staff Spotlight: Samantha Fouts, Exhibitions Associate

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Sam, our Exhibitions Associate.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I have always felt drawn to history. In particular, military history. My father and grandfather served in the Marine Corps and Navy, respectively, and it is an honor to remember them through my work at the Museum.

Q: If you weren’t in Exhibitions, what would you be doing?

A: Probably a novelist. For the past four years, I have been writing my own Dungeons and Dragons campaign, complete with a unique world and lore. Everyone keeps telling me that I should eventually turn the 1299-page document into a novel. We will just have to wait and see.

Q: What are three words that don’t describe you at all?

A: Brazen. Unorganized. Stern.

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section on our website each month as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: “Mass Effect: Deception.” I am a nerd and proud of it!

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: The Memorial Grove. It’s peaceful to sit and watch the waterfall or listen to the breeze through the trees. I often find myself often taking little breaks just to be able to walk around the Grove all by myself.

Q: What fictional character do you relate best to and why?

A: Samwise Gamgee. The two of us not only share a nickname – Sam – but also a love for those closest to us and a determination to make sure they reach the end of their journey in one piece. We may never be the protagonist in an epic adventure, but we are the friend that will walk beside our loved ones into the fire. As the saying goes, “Everyone needs a Sam.”

Q: What’s your personal motto, or your favorite quote?

A: “Courage is found in unlikely places.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Staff Spotlight: Justin Locke, Business Development Manager

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Justin Locke, our Business and Development Manager.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I have been able to connect with the Museum in a number of ways. One way specifically is the exhibitions that have come through the Museum – the information and the stories they tell resonate so deeply with me since these are common experiences in service. You think, ‘oh what I do is not very special’ or ‘it is similar to everyone else surrounding me,’ but these stories are so incredible and powerful that it has pushed me to actually start telling them. Being here has inspired me to be more vocal about my own service in hopes of inspiring or connecting with others.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A: When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé exploring and eating our way through the various restaurants of Columbus. We also spend most of our time spoiling our rescue husky, Dixie.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Determined. Ambitious. Adventurous.

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section on our website each month as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I am actually reading two books at the moment, “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey, and “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey.

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: I am a huge fan of the Soldier’s Cross in Memorial Grove. It is such a powerful message and one that I hope no one must bear.

Q: Since you are still actively serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, how does it feel to also serve in the civilian world for a Veteran-focused organization?

A: It has been incredible to continue to give back to Veterans and to those whom I have served with. Many Veterans struggle when leaving the service since it becomes your entire identity, so working here allows me to still have purpose, connect with, and give back to all of those great individuals.

Q: What’s your personal motto, or your favorite quote?

A: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

Staff Spotlight: Brianna Jones, Guest Experience Associate

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Brianna Jones, our Guest Experience Associate.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I started volunteering per my grandfather’s recommendation back in 2020, and eventually applied to a job as a Guest Experience Associate at the front desk!

Q: Tell us about your experience as a military child, and how it impacted your growth and career path.

A: As a child, I always loved to hear stories about my father’s travels and military experiences. He was an active duty airman, flying F-16s and later various UAVs. Upon hearing these stories and his genuine passion for service, I decided at a fairly young age that I wanted to join the service. However, after being medically disqualified from the Air Force, I’ve decided to continue my passion for service by working at the Museum and potentially joining the Army!

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A: When I’m not working, I enjoy playing the piano and the violin. I also spend my time reading, writing, and playing Nintendo games.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Chaotic, Friendly, and Optimistic

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section on our website each month as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I am currently reading “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. It’s extremely informative of pre-colonial Nigerian culture!

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: My favorite part of the Museum is the Remembrance Gallery. It’s so beautiful to see the light coming through the colorful windows, especially in the evenings!

Q: What is your favorite place in the world?

A: I love the Kettle Moraine National Park in Wisconsin. I accidentally found myself lost there after taking a wrong turn once and it ended up being a wonderful adventure. 

Q: What’s your personal motto, or your favorite quote?

A: “Then just become stronger. I have my ambition, you have your ambition too. Which means you should just keep walking forward towards that goal.” – Monkey D. Luffy, ‘One Piece’.

Inspiring Stories of Service: Captain Florent Groberg, U.S. Army (Retired)

Connect with Captain Florent Groberg, U.S. Army (Retired) and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in our July Inspiring Story of Service. In this conversation, Captain Groberg shares what Independence Day and freedom mean to him as both an American Veteran and an immigrant. He expresses the importance of service, responsibility and duty that comes along with being a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

WEDS-SUN 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.
Tickets